Someone approached me last Saturday at our Every Nation Building Phase 2 Event. I wasn’t sure at first why she wanted to speak to me but after listening to her, I was so delighted to have spoken to her.
Arlene attended Victory Fort years ago but moved to Singapore to work for Yahoo for about 6 years. She is now back in Manila on route to Canada.
She related her story regarding how she struggled with smoking. She knew she needed to quit. She understood the physiological and spiritual ramifications of her habit but couldn’t seem to shake it off.
She’s asked her small group leader, Joyce, to stand with her all this time to believe God for freedom from this habit. She appreciated her small group leader for not only praying with her but also for accepting her without condemnation.
Arlene said she came across my blog entitled “How About Smoking or Drinking” a few months ago that helped her build convictions to finally get rid of smoking. She’s been off it 4 months now and praises God for the victory.
Paul the apostle addresses the issue of those that are weak in the faith in Romans 14 and 15. He says that there are those who are weak in the faith that abstains from eating food sacrificed to idols. On the other hand, there are those who’s faith allows them to eat without guilt. The church was divided over this issue and Paul expressed that in the essentials, we are to be solidly united. But in the non-essentials, we can have liberty over certain issues.
- ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)
We have a tendency to major in the minors – from worship style to clothing to what type of instruments we can use in church.
“One person believes he may eat anything while the weak person eats only vegetables.” (Romans 14:2)
While we may have different preferences, opinions and styles, we can move forward as the church of Jesus but being solid on the non-negotiables – salvation by faith, the Triune God and the cross.
- BUILD ONE ANOTHER.
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)
We are called to build and not tear down. Paul warns the church to not cause anyone to stumble. Furthermore, he warns the believers to not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. It is not good to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Romans 14:20-21)
The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “What is the greater value?”
Our comfort or God’s kingdom?
Coolness factor or a soul saved for Christ?
Relevance or our relationship with Jesus?
Is Jesus our greatest value?
Romans 14:8 says that 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 died, we are the Lord’s.
Paul establishes the fact that we are no longer our own. Because we are not our own, our decisions are now determined by the One who does. We have been bought with a price. Our life is no longer ours alone.
- CELEBRATE WITH ONE ANOTHER
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” (Romans 15:10)
The goal is not uniformity but unity. We can have unity in the midst of diversity. We are called to appreciate it and even celebrate it.
Unity in diversity is a possibility as we aim to give God the glory.
If this is our goal – God’s glory – then we can move towards the same finish lines as long as He is our finish line.