Monday, September 26, 2011

The Race

My kids are competitive swimmers, and a common racing mistake is looking around.  Unfortunately, in the water the position of the head controls the position body.  Looking around throws the swimmer's technique off, which could disqualify them, but ultimately it slows them down.  We remind the kids all the swimmers will end in the same place, so focus on their swim, their lane, their time.... this is their best.  

I think I could use a lesson from the swimmer.  Looking over Romans 14,15, "You, then, why do you judge your brother?  Or why do you look down on your brother?  For we will all stand before God's judgement seat... So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."  Looking down at my sister's convictions slows my calling for the Lord and the results are disunity for the body.  The stronger then has the greater responsibility to bear with the weaker, building her up with edifying words and deeds.  

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.....  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly..... No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."  1 Cor 8, 9

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Stronger, The Weaker

This past Titus 2 meeting I wanted to hit pause on the Pass It On! theme.  Not to linger, next month we'll pick back up with our regular study, but I know the necessity to assess and address any parts of the heart that are not in line with God's Will or His Word.

Romans 14 and 15 are where we set up camp for the night, dealing with the stronger/weaker sister in the Faith.  This is crucial for a Titus 2 Woman.  I believe that by the very nature of the relationship (older woman teaching younger woman), this tension of stronger/weaker will exist.

In Romans, Paul is addressing both Jew and Gentile in the church of Rome.  In chapters 14 and 15, he is dealing with some specific issues of stronger/weaker believers and their response to each other.  The strong respond to the weak with contempt.  This has a condescending tone to it, a superior attitude.  Perhaps a kin to hatred.  The weak respond to the strong with judgement or legalism.  They condemn to only find guilt and serve out punishment.  

In Romans 15:7, Paul says, "Accept one another."  But ultimately how do we do that?  Especially when we have such strong convictions concerning certain practices.  Is there any way to truly find common ground?  Romans 14:1 says to accept the one who is weak in faith, but not pass judgement on her opinions.  I think that's the key!  These are matters of opinion, disputable ideals.  Matters that Scripture gives liberty to or even stands silent on.  These matters, or better opinions, may not even be Bible based, but simply people pushed.  

I believe Romans 15 provides us with two ways out of this sin state.  First, Romans 15:1, says the strong are to bear the weaknesses of those without spiritual strength.  I like Colossians 3:11-17 to clarify this "bear with each other."  But the heart of this verse is in the second half, "and not just to please ourselves."  Wow.  As we bear with the weakness of our sisters, don't please the flesh.  I believe clothes have nothing to do with my salvation, making me neither good nor bad.  But if a sister is convicted to her dress style, then I should not please my flesh in her presence.  Romans 14:15, says if I distress my sister over such matters I am no longer acting in love.

Verse 3 says, "For even Christ did not please Himself."  So, bear with the weak, do not please the flesh, just as Christ did not please Himself, but became the very essence of humility.

Our second way out is to seek Christ's example in v. 7, "Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God."  Again, wow.  If Christ can accept me... how dare I do not accept another!  Verse 8, 9 continues, "For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy."  

Christ humbled himself, denied His flesh, and became a servant to both groups for the purpose of completing God's Will and to bring glory to the Father.  And I want to squabble over pants or dresses.....

Finally, the verse that simply breaks my heart.  Romans 14:4, "Who are you to judge someone else's servant?  To his own master he stands or falls."  My sister serves my Master as I.  We both love the Lord.  Who am I to judge His child?  Ha! What pride to even assume I am the stronger!

Without a Romans 14 and 15 pause, it will be impossible for me to be a Titus 2 Woman.  The air of contempt or the scales of condemnation will ever go before me and block the gospel.  Romans 14:17-18, "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but Righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men."

Additional scripture concerning the stronger/weaker:
1 Corinthians 8:1-13, 9:19-23
James 4:12 (really James 3-4, what causes disputes...)