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Today’s Truth

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

Friend to Friend

I’ve got lots of opinions, not gonna lie. You do too, right? I’ll go even one step further by assuming that your opinions and my opinions are not perfectly in synch. Agreed?

Differences of opinion among people are more numerous than grains of sand in the ocean. Disputable matters in the church are no exception. Freedoms and convictions are not the same in every heart. Unfortunately, these areas of contention can cause conflict in our hearts, relationships, and communities of faith if we let them.

My family and I got thrown into a situation recently that caused some harm and confusion. The perception and convictions of another was pressed upon us, and the consequences were anything but peaceful. Much of it was a misunderstanding about a social media post, but the reaction was layered in judgment and accusation.

We agonized and prayed over how to respond in a way that would honor God. My family and I talked through flesh-led responses (revenge, defensiveness, etc.) versus Spirit-led responses (humility, love, grace, forgiveness) and, in all honesty, we also wrestled with justifiably inflamed feelings of hurt.

Paul spoke of these types of in-the-church tensions in the letter he penned to the believers in Rome. He explained that the freedoms we have in Christ are to be handled responsibly, in love, and that we are to be careful to not allow our freedoms to cause a person of weaker faith (or different convictions) to stumble.

Let me be clear, this is not a conversation about Biblical activities that are clearly forbidden or addressed. This is about us creating our own rules and expectations of how other believers should or shouldn’t behave, think, or believe. {Hunker down, girlfriend, ‘cuz we are about to go there.}

Romans chapter 14 addresses this issue head on.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. (Romans 14:1-4)

Even when others wound us with accusations and differing expectations, God can and will tenderly teach and heal hearts that are intent to walk in His ways. In the tension of our recent family challenge, I looked for the lessons found in God’s Word.

Paul’s writings to believers in Rome lead me to consider a few heart directives:

ACCEPT THEM: Gah! Don’t sidestep, stiff-arm, alienate, or reject that person. (V1)

DON’T QUARREL: Followers of Christ have different opinions. When a believer has differing opinions and convictions, I am to be concerned with my own convictions of faith, not fuss and quarrel about theirs. (V1)

DON’T JUDGE: I should act according to my conscience because I am accountable to Christ. (V12) And when another believer has different convictions, I’m not to judge them. (V4,13)

Paul went on to instruct Roman believers in Chapter 14 with this…

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (V. 10-14)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (V. 17-19)

These Scriptures also lead me to search my heart:

Am I determined not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of another believer?

Am I making EVERY EFFORT to do what leads to peace?

If the answer to either of these questions is NO, then I’m in violation of God’s Biblical standard and I need to humbly get with Him on the issue. {Warm and fuzzy, right?!}

Truth is truth and the Word is the Word. Following Christ isn’t always easy, but it is always best and always what brings Him the glory He deserves.

The Bible calls believers to unity, love, and peace in Christ – even when we differ in opinions. When all is said and done, it honors God when we make every effort to love well and align our heart with the teachings of His Word. Join me today?

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, Forgive me for the times when I’m more concerned about the conviction others than I am about my own. Help me to accept other believers without quarreling or judgment, and keep me from doing or saying anything that would cause another to stumble in their faith.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-13. How might this apply to you?

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Gwen Smith’s book, I Want I ALL, which includes a Bible Study Guide right in the back of the book!

If you want to read and study the Bible, but don’t know where to start, this is for you! Girlfriends in God cofounder Gwen Smith has several online Bible Study options that will guide you on a personal journey with the Lord as you read, record, reflect on and respond to His Word. These studies will help you know what God says about tender topics like forgiveness, healing, fear, depression, relationships and hope. Each study can be done in the comfort of your home and in a timeframe that fits with your personal schedule. Visit www.GwenSmith.net/BibleStudy to learn more

4 Responses to “Make Every Effort to Do This”

  1. Paulette says:

    Gwen First of all I have really enjoyed and gotten a lot out of the GIG devotionals. I first heard you guys at a retreat last year. Loved it. I have a question I am struggling with. I have a very dear Christian sister, who I know loves the Lord and is serving him. She spends a lot of time in the word so I in no way am doubting she is a Christian. But for some reason she has a lot of trouble expressing herself with out cussing. Mostly what some people call minor cuss words but sometimes even using the F word. I did one time ask her why she felt the need to use the F word and she said she thought we were close enough that she could express herself that way. I told her I really hate the word and she has minimized how much she uses it in front of me. Now the other side of the story is when she prays she often prays a prophetic word, which I struggle believing because of her mouth, so I am thinking others may also. I love her dearly and I have thought about talking to her about it again but I don’t want to offend her or sound like I am judging her. I have been praying about the situation especially that the Holy Spirit would convict if that is what is necessary and for wisdom in my part. Not really clear on an answer. Thanks for any help, scripture reference you can give me. Paulette

    • Gwen Smith Gwen Smith says:

      Hi Paulette,

      Girl. This is a toughie. I totally get your frustrations about this and have wrestled with some similar things in the lives of other believers. Ultimately, you are right when you say her conviction has to come from the Spirit of God. What I know is this… sanctification is a process for all of us, and while some have overt/obvious areas of growth, others have more subtle or unseen challenges. Allow for the Spirit to lead her to surrender this in HIS timing. You CAN, however, come along side of her as a girlfriend and ask what areas of her personal holiness she’d like you to pray for her about. Then PRAY for her… not just about this, but about her deepest heart matters. In the safety of love and friendship – and in the context of love and grace – we can support one another as we grow in holiness without causing division. Perhaps give one another permission to speak to tender heart places for the sake of HIS name? (Great confidence and trust is required for this.) I wish I had an easy button to fix this, LOL, but I don’t. Growing in the likeness of Christ takes time and often moves forward in layers.

      Love you lots! Praying for you and her now!
      GWEN

  2. Jakki says:

    Thank you, Gwen, for the reminder about opinions and what my duties are as a Child of Christ. I appreciate all of the posts that come from you 3 Women of God. May God continue to richly bless you!!

  3. Vicki says:

    OK, you sweet ladies. I’ve never responded to a post, but have to today. You have all been SPOT ON with your blog posts. Totally in accordance with God’s word. Totally vulnerable and authentic, just like we are called to be. As a life coach, I’ve considered writing a blog, but I don’t have to. You are writing it for me, and I’m passing it along to my clients. Please keep up the good work. You definitely are fulfilling your callings!!

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