In Part One, you saw how living the good and Godly life begins when you change your mind and,

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2

Indeed, we were told to change our priorities and set our sights on what is eternal. Because we remember that Jesus taught us,

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21

From there, we saw how, in Part Two, we were to bring that inward change into outward manifestation so that our example may draw others who are in the world to His saving grace.

Now we look at how we should relate to one another, fellow believers.

Paul, whilst teaching us how to relate to fellow believers, extensively used the analogy of food. Though personally, I think it may have been meal time when he wrote Romans 14, and he was near the kitchen smelling the aromas that wafted in; there remains much importance in food. In many things, we can compromise. But having a meal with someone with vastly differing dietary preferences, can be quite a challenge. So the analogy is effective. But the lessons can also be extrapolated to other areas of life.

“As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions.
One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables.
Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him.” Romans 14:1-3 [AMPC]

The first thing we need to take away from this is that we should never judge another just because they are different from us. A man acts according to his own beliefs. But regardless, that man has accepted Christ, and therefore, is now pleasing to the Father, just as pleasing as you or I. So we should not pass judgement on him because of His preferences, just because they are different from ours.

Now, of course this is not to say that we should be accepting of sin in our brethren. If there is wrong belief, we should and we do have a responsibility to correct. But what this is saying is, in the small things, the things that really do not matter very much, let us not pick bones. So we eat meat and they do not. What is that? Again, measure the issue using the yard stick of our Father; eating meat, or vegetables; listening to rock or classics; watching action movies or romance tear-jerkers; are they all eternal? So the man likes to dip his fries into ice-cream. Does that change his belief in The One who purchased for him his salvation? Does it curse our Father or Jesus to the face? Some chefs might think so, but surely we can see that it does not really matter.

However, if we judge others by our own preferences; let’s say we call a self-imposed vegetarian ‘weak’ for not believing that Jesus made all things good, and therefore by not eating meat, he is calling God a liar; the consequence of that condemnation is eternal because if that condemnation causes our brethren to doubt our Father and His love for him, and because of that, decides to leave the love, protection and provision of our Father, we have just unnecessarily hurt our brethren right where it matters most, at the heart of His relationship with our Father. So that which started out as harmless, has become harmful to our brethren.

How then shall we relate to our brethren?

“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” Romans 14:1 [MSG]

“…say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.” Romans 14:5-9 [MSG]

Indeed, beloved, let us not forget that Paul tells us,

“For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.” Romans 12:3 [AMPC]

We are no greater than our brethren, no matter how long we have been in Christ. So let us not practice our petty tyrannies on each other, lest we unknowingly and unintentionally hurt our brethren.

Instead, for us,

“We who are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.
Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].
For Christ did not please Himself [gave no thought to His own interests]; but, as it is written, The reproaches and abuses of those who reproached and abused you fell on Me.” Romans 15:1-3 [AMPC]

Again, measure our actions and responses using our Father’s yard stick. Will it encourage our brethren? Will it make him stronger? Will it help unravel uncertainties and clarify doubts in his mind? Will it make him live better and stronger for Christ? If it will, do it. If it will not, hold your tongue. For,

“Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:4-5 [AMPC]

So let us therefore not strike more stripes on the faith of our brethren. But instead,

“…reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!” Romans 15:7 [MSG]

“Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”
That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” Romans 15:1-6 [MSG]

So beloved, start looking at things from our Father’s perspective, from Jesus’ point of view and you will start to see Him work in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Remember beloved,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

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