“Accept other believers who are weak in faith.” Romans 14:1 NLT
DURING THE first century cities like Rome attracted people from many different cultures, languages, religions, and customs. Consequently the early church’s mission to “make disciples of all the nations” sometimes led to conflict and confusion. For example, some believers continued to observe a seventh-day Sabbath, while others who didn’t eat meat wanted to remain vegetarians. It’s the reason Paul wrote, “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue…about what they think is right or wrong.” Note, he didn’t tell us to just tolerate or put up with them, but to “accept,” welcome, receive, acknowledge, and make allowance for those who aren’t carbon copies of us. Even though the issues we deal with nowadays are different from those of the early church, it’s easy to become divisive and judgmental. But remember, “Each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other…instead…live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble” (vv. 12-13 NLT). When legitimate differences arise on fundamental issues and there’s no wiggle room for negotiation, behave in a Christlike way without picking fights, criticizing, and looking down on people. Satan’s goal is to sidetrack us into splitting hairs while God’s kingdom suffers. Instead, “Be devoted to one another in…love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10 NIV). Learn to respect your fellow believers not because of who they are, but whose they are! Paul writes, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity…so that with one heart and one mouth you may glorify…God” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).