“And on said holy day, I never eat a cheese burger because I don’t mix beef and cheese. Exodus 23:19 orders me not to cook an animal in its mother’s milk.”
You might read these statements and cringe. You may be ready to dive in with an answer. You may want to save this poor lad, and few would blame you. But is this always the best thing? If you do jump in, is there a right and wrong way to do so?
Romans 14 provides a great deal of clarity on this topic. You should probably take a minute to read it. (Seriously, stop and read it.) Paul addresses eating meat and treating different days as better than others. More significant is Paul’s address to the mature believer. Paul is not going after how to eat. He's teaching the mature believer how to relate to the weaker, and he leaves the impetus of responsibility on the one who won’t stumble over differences.
Have you ever argued over diet with another believer? How about alcohol? That's a hot one. How about a rest day? How about which author to read or radio program to enjoy? What did that argument look like? Was it a teaching moment or did you fight for your way to be sure the other believer knew you were more holy then him?
Do you ever argue out of your preference to be right over the unity and love of God in the Body?
In the latter portion of Romans 14, Paul encourages the believer of greater maturity to avoid keeping the weaker brother from stumbling. “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God,” Paul writes in Romans 14:20. This is a charge to keep unity in the little things by remaining gracious and kind. The more mature brother or sister ought to help the younger believer by leaving it alone or teaching where necessary. Modeling my be the better answer. If there is not harm, it is okay for a weak brother or sister to come to conclusions over time. Growth takes time.
But how can I know if I am the mature brother in a situation?
First, a sign of maturity is humility. Next comes patience. A mature believer is typically okay being patient with an issue of such small significance. He or she is at peace and can allow God to work out the issue. Next, the mature believe sees the issues for what it is—a dose of silliness. And he or she is okay to treat these differences for what they are rather than matters for argument. Additionally, the mature believer cares for the weaker. And he or she cares for God. When the issue is seen from a perspective that leaves the weaker person and God in the more important position (instead of the you, wanting to be right), a mature believe is likely present.
This week, examine yourself. Are there areas were you have been the weaker brother or sister? Are you in relationships with weaker Christians? Are you in a relationship with more mature Christians who can help you grow in areas of your immaturity? Use this week not to judge your fellow brother or sister in Christ, but instead, seek to remove obstacles in your relationships.
You are a blessing,