Sabbath, December 30, 2006
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Philippians 2:1-3.
HOW TO TREAT THE WEAK
1. What counsel should Christians follow in their relationship with one another?
Romans 14:1-3 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
“Many of the Jews who had accepted the gospel still cherished a regard for the ceremonial law…
“…many of those who had been converted to the faith of Christ still felt that since God had once clearly outlined the Hebrew manner of worship, it was improbable that He would ever authorize a change in any of its specifications. They insisted that the Jewish laws and ceremonies should be incorporated into the rites of the Christian religion.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 405, 189.
Believers who were still weak in the faith became uncertain and fearful. Their consciences were burdened. The apostolic council made the decision under the leading of the Holy Spirit. Acts 15.
“With great assurance these Judaizing teachers asserted that in order to be saved, one must be circumcised and must keep the entire ceremonial law.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 188, 189.
“Not all, however, were pleased with the decision; there was a faction of ambitious and self-confident brethren who disagreed with it. These men assumed to engage in the work on their own responsibility. They indulged in much murmuring and faultfinding, proposing new plans and seeking to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 196.
2. What should be out attitude in such cases of personal scruples or personal opinions?
Chapter 14 of Romans is not dealing with the Ten Commandments in general or with any one in particular. It has to do with opinions, personal convictions or scruples of Jews Christians on points regarding Jewish customs.
“In matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another’s mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions. ‘Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.’ No one has a right to merge his own individuality in that of another. In all matters where principle is involved, ‘let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.’ Rom. 14:12, 5. In Christ’s kingdom there is no lordly oppression, no compulsion of manner. The angels of heaven do not come to the earth to rule, and to exact homage, but as messengers of mercy, to co-operate with men ”–The Desire of Ages, pp. 550, 551.
3. What serious admonition did the author give to those who believe it their prerogative to judge?
Romans 14:4, 10, 13 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand… But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
“Do not think yourself better than other men, and set yourself up as their judge. Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show that you are a participant with Satan, the accuser ”–The Desire of Ages, p. 314.
4. What should we consider when a brother or a sister does not share our ideas?
Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
DO NOT BE A STUMBLING BLOCK
5. How are we to behave in such cases?
Romans 14:21, 22 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
“We should act with great caution. ‘If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.’ We can obey this admonition, and not sacrifice one principle of our faith. Satan and his host are at war with commandment keepers, and will work to bring them into trying positions. They should not by lack of discretion bring themselves there.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol.
6. What advice did the apostle give?
Romans 14:15-17 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
“We are to be guided by true theology and common sense. Our souls are to be surrounded by the atmosphere of heaven. Men and women are to watch themselves; they are to be constantly on guard, allowing no word or act that would cause their good to be evil spoken of. He who professes to be a follower of Christ is to watch himself, keeping himself pure and undefiled in thought, word, and deed. His influence upon others is to be uplifting. His life is to reflect the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.” –Counsels to Teachers, Parents, and Students, pp. 257, 258.
7. What are stronger Christians obligated to do?
Romans 15:1-3, first part – We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself.
“As Christ has pitied and helped us in our weakness and sinfulness, so should we pity and help others. Many are perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ’s stead, can be as a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon God. Oh, this is a blessed work! Let not pride and selfishness prevent us from doing the good which we may do if we will work in Christ’s name and with a loving, tender spirit.” –Testimonies for
8. What should always be our goal?
Romans 15:5, 6 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Lord has given us in His word definite, unmistakable instructions, by obedience to which we may preserve union and harmony in the church. Brethren and sisters, are you giving heed to these inspired injunctions? Are you Bible readers and doers of the word? Are you striving to fulfill the prayer of Christ that His followers might be one? ‘The God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God.’ ‘Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 248.
• Do I discourage the weak member by criticizing and judging, or do I help him through my example?
• Am I contributing to the re-establishment of the unity of Christ in God’s church?
• Are envious thoughts found in me, hindering me from wishing my brother well?