Accept One Another – Romans 14:1-15:13

 

Believe or not, there are times when believers in Christ just simply do not get along. One of the beautiful things about the body of Christ is its diversity. However, such diversity brings many challenges. The Apostle Paul encourages us in Romans chapters 14 and 15 to accept one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to understand that we our one family. We are to be together and we are to be accepting of one another. In Romans 14:1-15:13, we five basic principles when it comes to accepting one another.

Accept each other’s opinions on amoral issues. Paul addresses this issue in verses 1-5 of chapter 14. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”. [1]Paul mentions that we are to receive those who are weak in the faith. The weak in the faith are simply those who may have a weak  conscience or perhaps are easily offended. All of us have tendencies to be ‘weak in the faith’ when it comes to various issues that are important to us. Paul goes on to mention that we are not to argue with those who are weak. I like what the English Standard Version says here, As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” The opinions that we are not to quarrel over are opinions in relation to amoral issues. Amoral issues are those things that are neither right nor wrong. In other words, physical objects are amoral, food is amoral, music is amoral, etc. What you do with those things may be sinful, but the thing itself is not sinful. There are many examples that we could use here. One of the most common examples is the issue of music in the church. There are those who are of the opinion that certain styles of music are evil. I have heard some say that drums, for instance, are of the devil. Others will argue over whether or not you should wear dress clothes to church. Some will argue over the use of technology such as video screens in the church. These are issues that we should not argue over. There are too many important things that we should be focusing on. We do not need to waste our time debating over these things. Each person on either side of the argument should lovingly submit to one another and learn to accept each other even with their differing opinions. This may mean things taking place in the church that you may or may not be comfortable with. The bottom line is that we must accept one another and we should not argue over such frivolous things.

Accept each other for who we are in Christ. Notice what Paul says in verses 6-12. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”[2] It is mentioned here that Christ died for all of us. He is Lord over all. We, as believers in Christ, will all stand before Christ in judgment. It is the same Jesus that we serve. Therefore, our acceptance of one another should not be on the basis of our opinions or personality. Instead, our acceptance of one another should simply be on the basis of who we are in Christ. When we stand before God in judgment, it will not be for salvation, because that was taken care of on the cross. However, we will be judged for how we live in this life, particularly in relation to one another. When we stand before God, it is not going to matter whether or not we won an argument or whether our opinion is right or wrong. The thing that will matter is our attitude, our character. How do we react toward brothers and sisters who have different opinions than we do? How do we respond to those who question our lives? As the New American Commentary says, “In the long run the validity of faith is established by the quality of life it produces. What people do is the most accurate indicator of what they really believe.”[3] We must be very careful that we accept one another for who we are in Christ and not allow our differences to deter us from living out our faith in an honorable way.

Avoid offending one another as much as possible. It is easy to offend each other. It takes a lot more work, however, to be sensitive to others and try to avoid offending them. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” [4]Paul encourages his readers to focus on the things that matter most. We are to focus on the things that unite us and not on the things that divide us. We must learn to sacrifice what we may desire in order for the good of the whole body. Going back to the example of music in the church, I personally believe that the best way to use music in the church is with a blend of musical styles. In order to not offend those who do not prefer more contemporary styles, you should have a mixture of light contemporary along with traditional hymns and traditional musical styles. Such a blend does not cast off those who do enjoy contemporary worship while at the same time working to avoid offending those who are against it. On this issue, there must be a little give and take on both sides. The focus, however, must be on the worship of Jesus Christ and not on the style of worship. It is important that we never make the style of worship the issue. We are to worship in a way that brings glory to Christ. Another issue that often comes up is the issue of the use of various Bible versions. There are those who have the conviction that the King James Bible is the only one we should use. Though I do not hold to that view, I usually preach and teach out of the King James in order to not offend those who are King James only. There are times, however, when you just simply cannot make someone happy. No matter what you do, they are offended. This is where a lot of love, grace, and patience come in to play. There is a way to keep the peace and avoid offending one another while at the same time not compromising on what you believe. As believers, we should focus on the fundamentals of the faith and focus on those things that we do firmly agree on, rather than spending our time arguing over opinions and personal preferences.

Always seek to please one another. In addition to avoiding offending one another, we should try our best to go out of the way to please each other. This does not mean that we compromise what we believe. It does mean that we should put away our pride and do what is best for others and not just what is best for our selves. Notice what Paul says in chapter 15:1-6. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. 4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[5] The concept here is that we are to seek to do what is best for others. One of the marks of a mature believer in Christ is the ability to set aside personal preferences and desires in order to edify others. We should all be working to help each other grow in the faith. We are to ‘bear with’ one another. In other words, we must learn to put up with each other. We must learn to put aside the things that divide us and focus on what is best for our edification and sanctification. In order to accomplish this, the focus must be on the scriptures. We can argue over opinions and personal preferences, but we cannot argue with ‘thus says the Lord.’ The glue that unites believers together is the Word of God. A church that focuses on the scriptures is one that will stay united even when there are differences of opinions. The way to keep a church united is by having a high view of the scriptures.

Accept all those whom God has accepted. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. 11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” [6] Paul was telling his readers that God accepts both Jew and Gentile. He accepts all who come to Him by faith. Therefore, as believers in Christ, we must also accept all who come to faith in Christ. We may not agree with them on everything, but we must accept them, because Christ has accepted them.

In conclusion we find that as believers in Christ, we must focus on the main thing. There is too much work to be done for the kingdom of God for us to be arguing over things that in the end will not even matter. May we all work hard to accept one another just as Christ has accepted us.

 

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 14:1–5). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 14:6–12). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (1995). Romans (Vol. 27, p. 255). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 14:13–23). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ro 15:7–13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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