We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Romans 15:1 NIV
There is much talk these days regarding what others should or ought to do about issues in our world. The dividing lines are very distinct and each side carries passionate arguments to explain “why their view is the right one”. To be silent doesn’t seem right, nor does it profit to enter into endless arguments. How should a Christian engage? First keep your own heart pure, then prefer others as more important than yourself.
In chapter 14 of Romans, Paul expounds on the conflict in the church over quarreling over disputable matters. Specifically, he wants Christians to learn to live by faith in all matters. The specific concern for the Roman church was division regarding whether to eat meat or not to eat meat. The conflict between vegetarians and eating meat goes all the way back to Cain and Abel.
Know and live what you believe, but let love triumph in your interactions. Remember there is no chapter division in Paul’s original letter. The verses in chapter 14 continue into 15. The last verse in 14 tells us that we should live our convictions by faith, for what does not come by faith is sin. This is much stronger than having an opinion about a matter. Paul says that you should work through your convictions and beliefs and then align your life to those values. Let your convictions be governed by faith in what you believe God is requiring from you.
Make sure that you are convinced in your own heart how you believe God wants for “you” to live. You can’t dictate that faith conviction to another person. If you live with integrity and purity, others may want to follow your example. You can’t force or legislate those convictions upon another. Well, actually you can force compliance, but you haven’t dealt with the brokenness of the heart.
Once, your heart is aligned with faith, then you are free to express love, by yielding to the weaker brother’s conviction. It’s not about you. It’s not about what you believe is right. It’s not what you think is truth, (not referring to the essential matters of Christ and salvation). Paul says that we can lay aside our strong convictions to help those who are weak.
One practical way to bear with the failings of the weak is to do a lot more listening. There is almost always a story of hurt, pain, embarrassment, abandonment, or traumatic experience that accompanies belief. Those experiences lay the groundwork for misunderstandings about God and His character. Take time to listen and understand so that you can grow better together.
When getting your own heart right, watch out for pride. No matter how you slice or dice it, if you think your opinion is better than someone else, pride is present. A heart immersed in unmerited grace, will find that the antidote to pride is loving others and not first seeking to please ourselves.
You really do have something important to add to the conversation. When you finish talking, do they remember your love as the most prominent opinion? Don’t grow weary, by faith I know that you can do this.
Blessings Love y’all