Romans 14:13

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

When I was little, my younger sister hated sharing anything with anyone. She always told us “I have pink germs and you have brown germs!” as her way of prohibiting us from using anything she had claimed as her own. We were limited in what we could do because, in her mind, we had nasty brown germs that could not be mixed with her pretty pink germs.

What still makes me laugh about her toddler logic was the fact that she still openly admitted the existence of her own germs…they were just much prettier! She tried to dictate what we could or could not do because of her own mindset.

As much as we might not want to admit it, sometimes we do the same thing with other people. We start a new diet, or read a book that changes our perspective, or learn a new life skill and suddenly we think everyone else should be doing the same thing. It is so easy to pass judgment on others simply based on the observation that they are not living how we are.

At the root of it, we want it to be easy to live out our own choices, opinions, or changes. It would be a lot easier to stick to our New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy if suddenly the whole world stopped selling ice cream and french fries, right?! This isn’t a new development in our culture. This mindset has been a part of human interaction for thousands of years…it just didn’t involve french fries or pink germs.

Paul speaks into the issues of division as he writes a letter to the Romans. There was tension among the Roman Church over trivial interpretations of Scripture. Paul doesn’t tell them to follow the beliefs of one side or the other. Instead, he tells them to aim for unity. Unity did not require them to believe the same thing, but simply respect one another in their differences. They were all trying to please God, they just did it differently. Paul instructs us not to expect those who don’t believe the same things we do to behave in the same way we are called to live. Instead, we must love others with respect. You cannot expect other people to change their mind simply because you tell them to. Try living out your beliefs with love so others will want to know what you believe!

QUESTION 1. Who in your life has different opinions or beliefs than you do? What are they and how do you communicate with them about these differences?
QUESTION 2. How can you love those who have varying beliefs from yours despite your differences?
CHALLENGE: Spend time with people who don’t think the same way you do and try to learn something from them! You don’t have to believe what you hear to listen and learn in a way that respects them.
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