1 Welcome the person who is weak in faith—but not in order to argue about differences of opinion. 2 One person believes in eating everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not look down on the ones who don’t, and the ones who don’t eat must not judge the ones who do, because God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servants? They stand or fall before their own Lord (and they will stand, because the Lord has the power to make them stand).
13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. [Leviticus 19:18] 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!
16 I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires.
“I'm talking to you, Sid Philips! We don't like being blown up, Sid. Or smashed, or torn apart.” *
In Toy Story, Woody and Buzz learned to work as allies rather than rivals only as they realized that the real danger was not each other, but Sid, the kid who mistreated toys. The apostles often had to teach early Christians the same lesson. They lived amid hostility from the Roman Empire and the Hebrew faith in which many of them had grown up. Paul stated the danger in intense, colorful language to the Galatians: “be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!”
- In Romans 14, Paul said people with varied religious practices can be God’s servants. Scholar Leslie Allen said Paul meant, “It is nothing less than usurping Christ’s sovereign authority over a fellow-Christian to criticize him over a difference of opinion: for the less scrupulous to look down on the more scrupulous, or for the more scrupulous to judge the less scrupulous. Christian fellowship does not imply a right to run other people’s lives for them: only Christ can—and will—discharge such a right.” ** Whose opinions or way of living out faith is so different from yours it upsets you? Have you ever tried to look at them as accepted by God (as you are)?
- In Galatians 5:13 Paul bluntly stated a truth it’s hard for us to admit. We all have selfish impulses that can create insecurity and harmful conflicts. He pointed his readers to the one who can give us the ability to live in love: "Be guided by the Spirit and you won't carry out your selfish desires." In what parts of your life do you want to invite the Spirit to empower you to more fully love even your different “neighbor” as yourself?
Lord Jesus, free me from the urge to judge your servants. Replace it with a desire to allow your saving love to unite all of us who trust in you as our Savior and Lord. Amen.
* Woody as he, Buzz and the other toys unite to resist Sid’s mistreatment from http://www.disneyquotes.com/toy-story-quotes/
** Leslie C. Allen comments on Romans 14:1-12 in New International Bible Commentary, F. F. Bruce, gen. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1979, p. 1342.
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Jennifer Creagar is the Financial Care Program Director in Congregational Care at Resurrection Leawood. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.