Do you ever find yourself making judgments about other people’s lifestyle choices? How much they spend on their cars, eating out, clothing? How about the movies they watch or how many hours they spend playing video games?
Many times we let judgmental statements slip through our lips without realizing who they might hurt. For instance, you are with a group of people and someone says, “We have a mom who lives next door to us and she is on Facebook all the time and then she complains about how she never has time to get anything done.”
Statements like these cause wounds that sever or disrupt the unity that Christ longs for us to have as a church.
This is a simple example of making a statement without knowing all the facts- but we are assuming things about that person and how they spend their time and associating negative and judgmental attitudes towards their chosen behaviors/lifestyle choices.
Let me say at this juncture- I am guilty of this! I know I am- frequently. So when I heard a sermon preached on this subject- I knew I needed to spend some more time chewing on it- and repenting of my judgments about others- that keeps me from loving them as God has called me to in Christ.
There is freedom in Christ. Yes, we have clear things that God calls us to abstain from- we have clear things that He calls us to do as an outpouring of the grace and love He has shown to us.
But judging others on “differences of opinion” was not one of them. In Romans, Paul addresses this very issue.
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.
We are all unique- and in our uniqueness as Christians- there are differences in how we go about putting our faith into practice.
When Paul addresses those who are weak- he does not criticize them for holding onto traditions that may not be “necessary” but instead urges those who are “stronger” in their faith to be patient with them. Also, the one who is “weaker” should not disdain or judge those who choose to participate in behaviors they disagree with.
During the sermon he pointed out two temptations that emerge out of dissimilarity in the church.
When we begin injecting our evaluative opinions into the Gospel- we undermine the work that Christ longs to do in us and through us as a body of believers.
Does this mean that we have to go against our own conscience so that we all agree on all matters? No. That’s not what Paul is saying. We follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, test it against Scripture, and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.
We love them and embrace them along with all the differences that entails. Rather than letting those things separate us- let’s delight in the beautiful uniqueness that is the church.
May the Gospel fully penetrate our fellowship so that while truth and obedience matters and diversity exists, we nevertheless love each other out of reverence for Christ.
Note: So much of the credit and insights in this post goes to Pastor Dan at Lakeland Church. For a link to the original sermon and sermon notes, click here.