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Accept One Anotherby Duane Mabee on June 9, 2022
When is it right to just let things go? Far more often than you may think. The Apostle Paul spent all of Romans 14 and most of 15 saying so.
Christ highly values unity in His church. In fact, He staked His reputation on it. But relationships with other believers can be pretty strained at times. The more diverse our backgrounds the more difficult relationships can be. But unity and harmony among believers in the context of a rich diversity are vital to the strength and effectiveness of the church. How do we achieve that?
A major part of the answer is we must love and accept one another without judging or condemning each other over disputable matters. Paul starts Romans 14 saying, Accept him [or her] whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters, (Rom. 14:1 NIV).
Let’s define some of the terms. To “accept” can also be translated “receive” or “welcome”. Most of the major translations say “accept”. The word literally means to “take to oneself”. “Disputable matters” are any area that is not directly related to salvation – meaning you won’t be eternally lost if you’re wrong – where there can be legitimate differences of opinion. Who is the weak versus the strong believer? That varies with each situation. A person may be very strong in most areas of the faith, but weak in a specific part.
Paul continues to develop this theme. Romans 14:13 says, Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way, (NIV). And 15:7 says, Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God,
(NIV). His point is simple. In most areas the unity of the church is more important than our desires or opinions, as important and potentially accurate as they may be. That is difficult for many of us to accept because we are sure we are right, and we love being right.
Acceptance, however, creates room for love, diversity of opinion and growth. Listening to, valuing and accepting the opinions and practices of others when we don’t agree creates an opportunity for us to grow even as it allows space for other believers to mature in their faith. When we judge others because they see things differently, we stunt our own growth and create division within Christ’s church. Those who demand that everyone conform to their way, set themselves up as gods and use religion to bully others into submission. Once that happens it is impossible for us to continue to develop in Christ.
For the health of the church, we need to learn to put our judgments on hold. We need to learn to value what Christ values above what we do.