When you think about it, we are all called to make some sort of judgement of another person. If you are hiring an individual, you are judging whether or not a person has a set of skills and experiences that fit the position. Some contests require you to judge a contest where certain human attributes are compared and you must determine which individuals are able to exemplify those attributes better.
But, there are times when we carry things a bit too far. We sometimes judge others by their speech or their education. We see them as a color or look at them under a microscope. Some will do it to feel superior over others because they do things that they believe are right. Is this really the right thing to do?
I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Romans and happened to run across a passage that made me think more about this topic and delve into it a bit more. I have read this passage a number of times and have glossed over it, but considering the times, I believe it is appropriate for all of us to listen to the words of Paul and really think about them.
In chapter fourteen of his letter to the church at Rome, Paul writes to the believers, “Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.”
There are a couple of things that stand out to me regarding the passage. The first is our judgement or criticism of those who are weak in their faith. We all have been weak in our faith from time to time. Think about the times in your life when your faith weakened. Temptation can easily cause each of us to slip back into our old selves and begin to sin again. We are not to judge them, but are to help them grow their faith. It is so easy for us to argue with them about right and wrong. But, in the end, we will all be judged by the one master we all have, God the Father.
The real faith that we should have is that God will provide us the help to act in accordance to His will. If we truly seek Him out and ask for His guidance, He will provide it to us. But, ultimately, it all comes down to whether or not we listen to Him. If we have truly accepted Christ Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord and have repented of our sins, part of our daily walk with the Lord is listening to the Holy Spirit and following his lead in our lives. We must always seek God’s approval and not the approval of others. Other human beings are fallible and they will bring their understanding into play in the discussion.
Paul provides for a great example in eating certain foods. The Gentiles did not eat in accordance with the Mosaic law while Jews did. Some judged others for that very difference. Paul tells us that we are not to look down at the other for doing certain things like eating. There will come a time when “their own master will judge whether they stand or fall.”.
The main takeaway from that particular passage is that we are to seek God’s will and approval in our lives. We must always do that and we must do it with sincerity and with the desire to change our lives when God directs us. By studying His word daily, God helps us to understand those things that are important and how we should live. But, it all comes down to whether or not we truly will listen to God.
God gave us free will to act. That makes us very different from all of His creations. We have the ability to make our own decisions and, because of that, we must live with the consequences of those decisions. We cannot plead ignorance of the law when we stand before His judgement seat. God directs our steps; it is up to us to either follow His lead or to go our own way.
Later in the chapter, Paul gives us yet another example regarding criticizing another. The example of what day of the week is more holy than the others. As Paul points out, our desire as Christians is to honor God in all that we do. It doesn’t matter what day of the week we call holy over the others. The main point is that we honor God.
Going back to the example of food that Paul provided. Paul expands on his thought by saying no matter what we eat, we should give thanks to Him who provided the nourishment. As long as we honor the Lord in all that we do which includes even the simplest of things like eating, we are giving Him all that He is due.
Paul later writes, “For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.”
So, no matter what we do as long as we are honoring the Lord, that’s all that really matters. But, it begins with a strong faith and the sincere desire to seek God’s will in our lives. God doesn’t let us “go it alone” or without guidance. He is always there for us. If we ask for His wisdom in all that we do and follow it, then we are definitely on the righteous path.
James, in chapter one of the book that bears his name, writes, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”
If we ask God for wisdom, He will never withhold it from us and will give it to us. Once we receive it, we are now responsible for acting on it and doing what God has laid out before us. That is the key to having a strong faith. If you aren’t willing to follow His direction or decide that you know better, then your faith is weak.
So, in the end, we should not judge or criticize one another. As Christians, we should follow God’s will in our life by studying His word and seeking His wisdom daily. It is only by doing those things that we are able to stand firm in His grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.