This is a multi week series on how to disagree as Christians. It deals specifically with disagreeing about gray areas. The first article dealt with the idea that there are gray areas of the Christian faith. While they may be few and far between, there are times where Christians can rightfully disagree about an issue and both be right.
This week we are looking at how to make a decision about a gray area that Christians disagree on. What are the ramifications of not taking serious those gray areas? How do Christians who both love Jesus come up with different answers of how to live the Christian life when it comes to gray areas? We will continue to be studying Romans 14 to find these answers.
When it comes to gray areas in the Christian life, we need to decide how to make the right decisions. Some may jump to the conclusion that if there are gray areas of the Christian life, God will not care about the decision you make on that gray area. If that were so, He would not have given us a template for how to make those decisions.
When it comes to an area that Christians disagree on, how do we understand what God wants from us? Again, in verse 6 it says, “The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” So here we have two different Christians making opposing decisions, and both of them glorifying God in those decisions.
First, we need to understand that what decision we make in concerns to gray areas needs to be God glorifying, not just about us. This is not to say that our own persona does not come into the equation. But we need to make sure that God being honored is the primary focus of our decisions. Both Christians in verse six made their choice to honor God.
Second, realize that whatever decision you make, you will answer to God for. Verse 12 says that “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” This reminds us that even the gray areas of the Christian life should not be taken lightly. We better not just make a decision because it is what we want. We must take it serious, and God cares about those decision.
Third, we need to make sure that we have a firm understanding of why we believe something to be right or wrong. Verse 23 talks about the person who is not sure of the answer to their gray area, but does it anyway. It condemns this type of thinking. We must be sure that the reason we are doing something or not doing something is an answer through through, prayed through, and Scripturally studied through.
This idea of being sure, or not doubting our answer, in verse 23 is interesting. Notice that Paul says in verse 6 that the person “who eats, eats in honor of the Lord.” So there are some that if they eat the controversial meat are glorifying God. So why would the person in verse 23 be “condemned” for eating if the person in verse 6 is not condemned for doing the same thing?
The person in verse 6 has different motivations for eating compared to the person in verse 23. The person in verse 6 is convinced that they are right in God’s eyes, and are not only eating the meat, but eating it to God’s glory, and in His honor.
The person in verse 23 is not condemned for the act of eating itself, but because they are doing so, not under full conscience that what they are doing is right. How can we take part or abstain in a gray area, and not be fully convinced?
First, maybe the person is participating or abstaining in a gray area without studying the Word. They are not making a Biblically informed decision, but a decision based on their feeling or pleasure. God doesn’t want Christians to act on “the feels,” but ones who studying God’s Word and be an approved worker in the word (II Timothy 2:15). He wants you to get to know Him, and make decisions because you know they are right, not make decisions based on feelings.
Second, maybe the person is participating or abstaining because “that’s what Christians do.” To many Christians, especially when it comes to gray areas of the Christian life, make decisions purely on what they see other Christians doing. In some aspects, this is a good thing. Newer believers are often told in Scripture to follow stronger Christians who are following Jesus.
When you are called to follow other Christians, you are not called to follow blindly. You need to ask questions of why that person is making that decisions. Find out where is Scripture they are finding their reason for doing or abstaining form something. To many Christians say they do or do not do something because their pastor, deacon, or some other Christian is doing or abstaining from something. Study for yourself why God wants us to do or abstain form certain things.
What are some gray areas of the Christian life? What are some areas that you and other believer in your church, family, or within your friends disagree on? Why do you do or abstain from those things? Are you convinced in your mind that you are doing the right thing, or doing them purely because that is what you want to do?
Are you abstaining from those things because you fully are convinced that that is what God wants, or is it easy to abstain from those things because your circle of influence also abstains from those things? If someone asked you why you are doing or abstaining from a gray area of the Christian life, what would be the Biblical answer you would give them?
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