Receive One Another as God Has Received Us
God’s beautiful family is amazingly diverse. Many nations, tribes, languages, and cultures make up the wondrous body of Christ. For this reason, the church is an opportunity for each one of us to mature—we must embrace each other’s uniqueness and diversity. This requires love and grace. We are like a cluster of grapes because individually we are less powerful than we are collectively. The new wine is found in the cluster. The blessing and fullness of the Spirit is experienced and flows from our unity: “Here is what Yahweh says, ‘As new wine is found in the cluster, and someone says, “Don’t destroy it, for there is a blessing in it”’” (Isaiah 65:8 TPT).
“Offer an open hand of fellowship to welcome every true believer, even though their faith may be weak and immature. And refuse to engage in debates with them concerning nothing more than opinions.
For example, one believer has no problem with eating all kinds of food, but another with weaker faith will eat only vegetables. The one who eats freely shouldn’t judge and look down on the one who eats only vegetables. And the vegetarian must not judge and look down on the one who eats everything. Remember, God has welcomed him and taken him as his partner.”Romans 14:1–3 TPT
A Gnat versus a Camel
Jesus once gave an interesting analogy about swallowing gnats versus swallowing camels (see Matthew 23:24). Obviously, swallowing a gnat is not pleasant, but it also is harmless. Swallowing a camel, however, is lethal. We should be sensible about what we make a “big deal” out of. Isn’t this true in relationships? Unity, love, and true harmony will definitely require each of us to “gulp down” our personal opinions and preferences, swallowing our pride. This is what maturity will do. Immaturity will have us nitpicking and making mountains out of molehills in order to get our own way and prove ourselves right.
The Problem of Opinions
Your opinion will absolutely at some point (and likely, many points) contradict someone else’s opinion in the church. It is in those moments that we must let go of pride, arrogance, and selfishness. Being right is overrated; it really is. Jesus bled and died—you can surely allow for the weaknesses and different viewpoints of your fellow believers. Here are two soul-straightening verses about our pride-filled opinions:
- “A fool is in love with his own opinion” (Proverbs 12:15 TPT).
- “Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 TPT).
A Love Feast of Christian Unity
Jesus was very clear: Christians will be known by love for one another. He said, “For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers” (John 13:35 TPT). Our unity cannot be broken any more than family members can change their DNA—we are family.
Just as the Lord fully accepted you when you first came to him with all your weaknesses and immaturity, so you are also called to accept your fellow believers just as they are…and not only accept but actually celebrate. We are a beautiful, diverse, multifaceted, and many-membered body. Let’s celebrate one another’s uniqueness!
Jesus Is Lord and Judge
Aren’t you so thankful that the only one who is authorized to condemn or uphold you, the only one allowed to judge you, is the Lord Jesus Christ? No one, no person in the universe, has the right to judge your heart. Jesus alone reserves the right to judge his servants. And, oh, what a kind, merciful, and trustworthy judge is he!
“Who do you think you are to sit in judgment of someone else’s household servant? His own master is the one to evaluate whether he succeeds or fails. And God’s servants will succeed, for God’s power supports them and enables them to stand.
In the same way, one person regards a certain day as more sacred than another, and another person regards them all alike. There is nothing wrong with having different personal convictions about such matters. For the person who observes one day as especially sacred does it to honor the Lord. And the same is true regarding what a person eats. The one who eats everything eats to honor the Lord, because he gives thanks to God, and the one who has a special diet does it to honor the Lord, and he also gives thanks to God.
No one lives to himself and no one dies to himself. While we live, we must live for our Master, and in death we must bring honor to him. So dead or alive we belong to our Master. For this very reason the Anointed One died and was brought back to life again, so that he would become the Lord God over both the dead and the living.
Why would you judge your brothers or sisters because of their diet, despising them for what they eat or don’t eat? For we each will have our turn to stand before God’s judgment seat. Just as it is written: “As surely as I am the Living God, I tell you: ‘Every knee will bow before me and every tongue will confess the truth and glorify me!’”
Therefore, each one must answer for himself and give a personal account of his own life before God. “Romans 14:4–12 TPT
Jesus Is the Judge of Men’s Hearts
Praise God that Jesus is the one who will be with us when we give an account:
“There is not one person who can hide their thoughts from God, for nothing that we do remains a secret, and nothing created is concealed, but everything is exposed and defenseless before his eyes, to whom we must render an account.
So then, we must cling in faith to all we know to be true. For we have a magnificent King-Priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose into the heavenly realm for us, and now sympathizes with us in our frailty.”Hebrews 4:13–14 TPT
So, just as you would not want to stand uncovered and be subjected to judgment before mere mortals, neither should you want to uncover and judge anyone else. Breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the one who is your judge is also your friend, lover, Savior, intercessor, Bridegroom, strengthener, and advocate.
The Diverse Body of Christ
God didn’t break the mold when he made you because he didn’t even use a mold. He dreamed of you in his loving heart and then created you for his delight. The psalmist said it this way: “You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book” (Psalm 139:16 TPT). God has never and will never be satisfied with a version of one of his beloved children that is a mere clone of someone or something else. No, he loves the true you, the real you, and he will bring you forth by his grace, into his glory, for the fullness of his purpose. And, when it is all said and done, you will look a lot like Jesus.
Grace Receivers and Grace Givers
If we have been so blessed and covered and empowered by God’s grace, should we desire to also give that same grace to others? Indeed, we should, and we must. We represent Jesus in the earth. We are his body. We are his living epistles, his letters for others to read and know what God is really like. Are we representing him well? Are we showing the world a gracious Jesus who bears with the failings of the weak and covers a multitude of sin? Or are we displaying a different Jesus and a different gospel? We must display the grace we preach—in our words, our actions, and our relationships within the family of God. New baby Christians are watching, our children are watching, and the world is watching.
The above was adapted from Not Guilty: Be Free to Experience God’s Love, a devotional commentary on the book of Romans.
Shame. Failure. Sin. They leave mankind with a verdict: guilty. Have you been trusting in your works or feeling continually crushed by sin? Your story does not end there. Christ paid the price, and a new verdict has been rendered: not guilty! It’s time to relinquish every heavy burden of sin and guilt to God.
As you examine the powerful, freeing book of Romans through this devotional commentary and study guide, you will
• rediscover the joy of your salvation,
• surrender all self-righteousness,
• stop striving to please God or earn his love,
• return to the simplicity of the gospel of grace,
• silence the accusing voice of shame, and
• experience acceptance by God.
Understand the true grace of the gospel that releases God’s power and peace into your life. Click here to learn more.