“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Romans 14:1

Disputable matters are differences of opinion over what is acceptable to God and not acceptable to God. These are really gray areas that we are tempted to use as a club of conviction on another believer in Christ. The purpose of disputable matters is not to get us worked up over another’s perceived “sin.” So relax. The purpose of disputable matters is to trust God with His judgment over the issue and to accept the person with whom there are conflicting standards.

Satan would rather us “major on the minors” and miss the significance of people dying without Christ in their hearts and food in their stomachs. The enemy’s goal is to suck us into the sideways energy of debating issues that pale in importance over exercising patience, joy and generosity. In the big scheme of things, what is really important to God? That’s where He invites us to put our focus and passion.

You may be a better debater and a more mature Christian. You can quote Scripture with the best of them and make a very compelling argument for your point. But, if you alienate and crush your weaker brother (not your opponent), what has really been gained? Do not use your liberty as leverage to look down on another. Nor are you allowed to use your legalistic standards to hold others hostage on behalf of your behavior.

We are all on a pilgrimage of understanding and maturity. Rather, accept one another and trust God with any judgment that may need to occur. To usurp His authority is to play God. This is not a fun game to play, and someone eventually gets hurt. The mature one in the faith knows better. The initiative to reach out and accept starts with the mature. Ask God for wisdom and grace to coach another when asked, and to mentor by your life’s example.

Your life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit is the best teacher and exhibit of Jesus. When disputable matters arise, keep the focus on Christ. What would Jesus do? How would Jesus act? You can’t improve on Jesus. He hung out with sinners. He turned water into wine. He accepted and forgave prostitutes, adulterers and dishonest businessmen. He abhorred religious pride and hypocrisy. Those with teachable hearts He loaded down with truth. To those with un-teachable hearts He told stories.

Therefore, for Jesus’ sake, replace a condescending attitude toward the weak in faith with one of compassion. Be challenged and convicted by their zeal to obey God. On the contrary, you may struggle with seeing others taking too much license with the grace of God. Do not let your disagreement with their behavior keep you from learning from them. Ask God to grow you and change you in areas where you may be too inflexible or unrealistic. It is OK, even preferred, for you to fear God and love God at the same time.

Moreover, disputable matters need not drive us apart, but they can bring us together. If we were both the same, then one of us would be unnecessary. Allow Christ to keep your motive clean. Do all things for the benefit of another, placing their well-being before yours. You can be right in the letter of the law and lose the spirit of your influence. Or, you can accept, not judge, and not only keep a friend but extend your influence. Let your gracious attitude override the temptation to drive home a point. The Holy Spirit will work way beyond your capabilities. Disputable matters can become a catalyst for Christ-likeness with all of us!

Taken from Dose 56 in the 90-day devotional book Infusion.

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