Attitudes, continued

Attitudes In Positive Form,

Part 10  (July 10, 2022)

Do Not Quarrel Over Opinions


[Read the 14th chapter of Romans]

In our treatment of each other, we must never fail to distinguish between matters of faith and matters of opinion. In the time when Paul wrote to the Romans, there were Christians who – due to their cultural/religious background – had different diets that they may not have changed when they became Christians. That’s OK.

When you become a Christian you certainly have to change, from sin to righteousness; from false religion to true religion; from bad attitudes to good attitudes; from sinful relationships to right relationships; from disobedience to obedience; from worldliness to godliness. That’s all very clear in reading and studying the New Testament.

But if you were a vegetarian before you baptism, you don’t have to start eating meat. Likewise, if you enjoyed your pulled pork before you obeyed the gospel, there is not divine requirement to cease pork (see Acts 10:15 and Rom. 14:14).

Most important, I cannot demand that others eat what I eat, or stop eating what they eat, as regards things lawful to consume. There are two things to keep in mind as you read Romans 14. ONE, we do not pass negative judgments against people because they are not like us, in matters not of faith. “Why do you pass judgment on your brothers? Or why do you despise your brother?” (Verse 10).

TWO, we must guard our attitudes about people who differ with us in regard to these matters of opinion, lest we “destroy the work of God,” (verse 20). If in any attitude or conduct, we hinder or neglect the work of God, repentance is needed.

The teaching of this chapter, when embraced by members of a local church, has great value and promise in working together. Business meetings have erupted into wrangles over what color the carpet should be, or whether to have a tree out front or a flower bed. These wrangles need an umpire who blows the whistle, calls foul and prays for forbearance and consensus. If the New Testament doesn’t specific such things, they cannot become matters of controversy.

What translation of the English bible should one use? While there are legitimate points of comparison to bring up and observations about translation method, accuracy, etc. Nobody can dictate or mandate a translation. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother?”

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding,” (Rom. 14:19).

Some issues should never affect fellowship. Matters of moral or spiritual indifference (to God) are not to affect fellowship in the local church. We are directed to accept a brother who may have

scruples, though not to pass judgment on his opinions (Romans 14:1ff.). In these matters, we are not to judge our brother (14:10, 13) or risk destroying the “work of God for the sake of food” (14:20). Each person in the group is to live by faith in all things, for “whatever is not from faith is sin” (14:23).

Our job is to stay in fellowship with God and everything else, including fellowship with those of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1), will take care of itself. We will have unity and peace and accomplish the work God has given us to do. As John says in his oft-quoted passage: “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).[1]

[1] Posey, D. (1997). Fundamentals of Faith: Faith and Fellowship. Christianity Magazine, 14(11), 24.

Attitudes, Part 9

Serve One Another!

(Gal. 5:13)

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

We are freed from sin when we obey the gospel of Christ, and as we continue the obedience of faith, we stay free from sin in Him (Rom. 6:17-23). We must not, however,  be foolish and presumptuous about that freedom. Do not, Paul said above, “use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” And this is echoed by Peter: “…do not use your freedom as a covering for evil,” (1 Pet. 2:16, NASB). So what we enjoy and praise God for, must never become any license for liberty. That is the “do not” part of this.

The DO part of this is: “…through love serve one another.”  Observe this isn’t a legalistic, “do I have do” kind of thing. No. This is service we render to each other out of a sincere mind toward all the components of service we are able to provide. We have received from God, have freedom in Christ, so now: “…use it to serve one another.” This we do gladly as “good stewards of God’s varied grace,” (1 Pet. 4:10).

We do this likewise as disciples of Christ who “came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many,” (Mark 10:42-45).

What does this look like in actual practice? It looks like counting others more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:30. It looks like equipping ourselves to be able to instruct one another (Rom. 15:14). I looks like bearing with one another, “and if one has a complaints against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive,” (Col. 3:13). It looks like sharing bread (Prov. 22:9), showing hospitality (1 Pet. 4:9) and refusing to put a stumbling block or offense before a brother (Rom. 14:13). We are free but free to serve in these ways, to the glory of God.  

Serving one another sounds like declining greatness (Luke 22:26-27), encouraging one another (1 Thess. 4:18), praying for each other (Jas. 5:130 and speaking words of kindness (Col. 3:12). Freedom in Christ? YES, thank God. In that freedom there is service to God and His people and to the lost, through love.

I suspect I’ll spend the rest of my life attempting to live the outward-focused life. Learning to be a servant is quite a process. There is a big part of me that just wants to circle the wagons. Or cocoon. Or whatever word describes inward living. And I’m pretty sure my brain would be happy just storing stuff. But I want my heart to rule, to receive and give. Because as I periodically remind myself, this life is not about me; it’s about God and others. Enough talk. Now let’s make a difference in someone’s life today. Enough talk. Now let’s Let’s go serve somebody. [Source: Workman, Dave. The Outward-Focused Life: Becoming a Servant in a Serve-Me World (p. 186). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

Stolen Valor

Claiming the Status but Without the Standards

I am a veteran. United States Army, 1966-1969. I have my DD 214, my honorable discharge certificate and my VA benefits ID card. I was not a hero, no combat medals. But I did serve.

Have you heard of Stolen Valor? This describes the appalling spectacle of someone who didn’t serve in the military pretending they did, in an effort to falsely gain either benefits or attention. Under United States Law (2013), it is a violation of federal law for someone to falsely claim military service, awards or decorations or even “embellished rank.” At discharge I was an E-5. If I started telling people I was any higher, I would be in violation of federal law, subject to the penalties for making such a false claim. It is serious, in the sight of God and federal law in this case, to claim status that is a lie.

One way to express this is – Claiming Status Without The Training, The Reality and The Standards. And that is also common in religion. There are men who claim to be current apostles. Women who claim to be prophets. Preachers who claim God spoke to them directly. And ordinary people who claim some extra-ordinary status with God and over people.

And of course, people who just say “I’m a Christian,” but without any training in discipleship, have not met the standard or conditions of becoming a Christian and have no proof of spiritual life in their behavior.

The only valor belongs to Christ. The only claim we can make is, He is our Savior and we have responded to Him according to what the apostles taught. And we continue to live to the best of our ability, standing in the grace of God.