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Stick with Acceptance

Description

If you take a moment to think about how many people have ruined relationships because of differing opinions, it becomes clear as to why God tells us to bear with each other. Ronnie Floyd explains.

Bible Studies for Life

Newly married couples learn quickly, if they didn’t already know, that opinions differ. Whether it involves trivial things like where to squeeze the toothpaste tube or which way the toilet paper rolls, or greater challenges like household budgeting or how to divide time between families, opinions will differ. Newly married couples learn what long-time married couples know: strong relationships will outlast differences of opinion.

After 38 years of marriage to Jeana, we know two things: Our opinions are different and continue to be, but more importantly, our relationship and its strength far exceeds the triviality of our opinions.

In a Perfect World

Ben Mandrell reminds us, “In a perfect world everyone would agree with me. Everyone would bring up their kids like I do. Everyone would vote for the candidates I endorse. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. People don’t always see eye-to-eye.”1 We do sometimes think in despair–feigned or real–that things would be better if everyone just agreed with us. In this we miss the opportunities God gives us to grow spiritually through differences of opinion.

We often have differences of opinion with others in the Body of Christ over doctrinal issues. Other times we strongly disagree over things that are not so clear in the Bible. What are the behaviors we should or shouldn’t do if they aren’t specifically mentioned in scripture? What about those so-called “gray areas”?

The Bible says, “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues. One person believes he may eat anything, but one who is weak eats only vegetables. One who eats must not look down on one who does not eat, and one who does not eat must not criticize one who does, because God has accepted him. Who are you to criticize another’s slave? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand. For the Lord is able to make him stand.”2

In another scripture, Christians are instructed to regard meat that had been previously offered to idols in much the same way.3 Mature Christians are to consider the spiritual growth of weaker Christians when exercising spiritual freedom. To put it another way, we should take care not to cause another spiritual brother or sister to “stumble.” Our relationships are more important than our opinions.

It is unusually easy to allow our opinions and positions to become dominant. Many of us have a very strong sense of truth and righteousness. We believe doctrinal accuracy is of utmost importance, studying for hours and hours to ensure we have every little thing in order. Yet, Paul says we are also responsible to God for those gray areas, which he calls “doubtful issues.”

Bear with One Another

If we take a moment to think about how many people have ruined relationships because of differing opinions, it becomes clear as to why God tells us to bear with each other. We cannot allow non-essentials to ruin relationships. We cannot challenge each other to love and good works if everything is essential.

Not everything rises to the level of a top tier theological issue, no matter how strongly we might feel about it. We do well to remember the old truth, “In essentials unity, in non-essential harmony, and in all things love.” We should, in all things, stick with acceptance.

1 Bible Studies for Life, Like Glue, Ben Mandrell
2 Romans 14:1-4 (HCSB)
3 1 Corinthians 8

 

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