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Monday, November 21, 2016

They'll Know We Are Christian by Our Love - Or Not

Getting Along With Christians, Disagreeing With others without personal accusations
Can we love Christians with whom we disagree?

A woman commented on one of my devotions. She doubted I was born again and knew I didn't have God's Spirit because I was spreading poisonous lies from Satan and preventing people from being healed.(1) 

I responded kindly, but that inspired four more comments in which she quoted Scriptures and attacked my faith and character. 

If a non-believer visited my site before I deleted her comments, I doubt they'd believe John 13:35: "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

In the forty years I've been a believer, it seems like Christians have become more angry (and not righteously so) - about politics and non-essential doctrinal differences.   

If we can't disagree without discrediting the character and faith of other believers, we should keep our mouths shut.

Because I'm an opinionated person, I need to occasionally remind myself of the principles in Romans 14 - 15:1-15.

If you haven't read that passage lately, why not do it today. With God's help, we can disagree and still be a testimony for Christ's love. 

(1) This was regarding my devotion "Does Faith Heal?"

Bible Study

If Scripture says something is wrong, it's wrong for everyone. But there are some non-essential areas where Christians can have different convictions without either party being wrong. 

Dietary and holy day observance are specifically mentioned in this passage. In today's Church, issues are more likely to include things like consuming alcohol, wearing make-up, dancing, watching television, wearing a head-covering, and politics. Or they may involve tithing, church membership, and church sacraments. They could also include how we approach holidays, material wealth, hospitality, and education. 

There are right and wrong behaviors in all of these areas, but there is also more than one right approach. This means Christians will apply Biblical principles in different ways, some with more liberty and some with less. The weaker brother is the one with stricter convictions about these non-essentials. And this passage tells us that we should not dissuade him nor judge him for following his conscience.

Note: please do not think that this passage means we should never judge a fellow Christian. While there may be more than one right way to do something, that doesn't mean that there aren't wrong ways - ungodly ways. We are called to judge those within the Church and help them correct wrong behavior (1 Cor. 5:11-13; Matthew 18:15

Romans 14: Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.  

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.  

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.  

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. 

These articles can help you understand how this passage applies to us today: 
Christian Liberty
Strong & Weak
copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

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