“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end, Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” Romans 14:7-10
It is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:11
“Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Romans 14:13
I have a habit of holding strong opinions. I recall a moment in time that is now, fortunately, more than two decades ago, although still embarrassing. I was having trouble understanding how someone was thinking, I cannot remember what the specific thought was, but I said aloud, “Why would God give me an opinion if He did not want me to share it?” My wife looked at me and said, “Who in the heck do you think you are?” (except she did not say Heck, she said some things)
My wife is a remarkable human as she can encourage me better than anyone. She can also speak the truth to me about as blunt as anyone. She proceeded to tell me that I was not only wrong but also that I was arrogant. Hopefully, I have grown in this area, but she and I talk about the number of gray areas in the world. As we have grown older, we both see it in things we used to think were clear.
We both grew up seeing a lot of black and white issues. Our parents tried to teach us a sense of right and wrong. If you believed something was wrong, it was probably always unsuitable. A perfect example of this would be the fundamental faith we each grew up with in life. I was taught that people of her faith were lost. I remember thinking that John the Baptist was a Southern Baptist like me as a child. That was not my church’s teaching; that was all me. I was around five years old, but it is still funny. Ironically, she grew up being taught the same thing about my faith. It was an interesting combination for God to join us together.
We lived together before our wedding. I fully realize that marriage is God’s plan. I also recognize that His plan is better than my execution. However, we did not take our living arrangement lightly. We both felt that God had put us together. We had both decided that our relationship was permanent. Was that “married” from another perspective? If it was wrong, is it still wrong 30 years later?
We asked both parents for their blessing before moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas, together. My dad asked one question “If I was dead, what would you do?” Okay then. Her mom asked if we could afford two apartments. Her dad looked like he was going to laugh but didn’t. Instead, he said, “I don’t want to hire a babysitter for the wedding.” Point taken.
I am not trying to weaken God’s Word, not a bit. I am just saying that I have realized more and more as I go through this life that I am not God. I am more and more thankful that I cannot fathom even a little of His role. I am not God’s lawyer. I do not have to argue Him into existence. He already is. I also cannot underperform so severely that I negate Him. He’s got that covered too.
We see a nearly constant bombardment of opinions. People judge almost everything: music, preaching style, dress code, jobs, money, parenting, etc. You cannot go one day without either a post on social media, a coffee shop comment, or a story in the news. We judge. It’s what we do.
Acts 15:36-41 states, “And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.”
This disagreement was between Paul and Barnabas. Ironically, God used that split to reach twice the number of people. He ended up with two missionary journeys, not just one. Did He plant that division on purpose?
Can you imagine if we all looked at each other this way? We could move without drawing lines that separate us. We could have more love for each other. We could understand that God is more than capable of using things, even if we don’t think they are usable. We could support each other even if we do not agree on everything. We could look at disagreement as an opportunity to be taught something instead of assuming someone hates us or a new word “shaming” us. Maybe we are wrong. Sometimes truth needs to be told. Perhaps God is using both to accomplish different things we may never comprehend.
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