When Christians Disagree

Read the full chapter here.

Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. ~Romans 14:1

One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.  He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  ~Romans 14:5-8

If you’ve been around The Church long enough you know that not all Christians have the same beliefs. Paul is acknowledging these differences in Romans 14. Not only is he acknowledging them, he is instructing The Church not to argue about them – at least not about the questionable things.

In this context Paul is speaking to the Romans about their disputes over clean and unclean food as well as observance of certain Jewish holidays (okay, they probably didn’t call them holidays, but you get the point), but we also can apply this scripture to our modern lives. There are certain matters that are not addressed specifically in the Bible and we must decide for ourselves, through prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, how to honor God in these matters. For example, many Christians feel strongly that smoking is sinful; others do not hold that same view because smoking is not addressed specifically in scripture. As Paul put it, this is a “doubtful thing” (Romans 14:1).

The point Paul is trying to make, and the point that we need to remember, is that we may disagree with other Christians on questionable matter; however, even though we make different decisions we make our decisions with the same intent – to honor God. Therefore, we need to respect the decisions of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and not let them become matters of dispute.

All that said, I love how Paul ends the chapter.

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.  Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. ~Romans 14:22-23

In other words, if we truly believe that the decisions we are making honor God, then be happy. But on the other hand, if we have doubts about our decisions then you are condemning yourself. If we are not fully convinced that it is okay to smoke for example, and smoke anyway, then we are sinning.

Personally, I felt the Holy Spirit’s conviction in these last two verses. Have you ever refused to budge on one of those questionable matter, not because you were confident in your decision, but because you just wanted to be RIGHT? You just didn’t want to admit you were wrong? I have many times and because of my pride I’ll probably do it again, but with God’s grace hopefully more seldom than in the past.

So here is my challenge to you and for myself:

When we are faced with a decision regarding a doubtful thing ask:

Is my decision here based on my desire to honor God?
Is my decision here based on my desire to be right? Am I unwilling to admit I have been wrong?

Does my decision show that I am humble to God and his will?
Does my decision reflect my pride and my desire to up lift my own will?

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us in Your Word. Thank You for teaching us how to treat other Christians when we don’t have the exact same set of beliefs. Please, Lord, show us were the decisions we have made have been based on pride and show us how to honor You above all. We love You. In Your name. Amen.

I hope my thoughts help you understand how this scripture can be applied to our modern lives, but don’t just take my word for it.  Dive into The Bible yourself, pray, and ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you.

Have a question or a thought?  Please feel free to leave a comment.

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