This is a guest post from my wife, Melanie. She originally wrote this post for Biblical Woman, the blog site for the Women’s Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The post originally appeared here.
Vaccines. Education choices for our children. What we eat, what we don’t eat. Working moms, stay at home moms. Attachment parenting, Baby-Wise. Dating versus courtship. These words alone can make a woman’s blood begin to simmer without her even realizing it. They are the same things that make up what popular culture calls the “mommy wars.” Every woman has an opinion on these issues and no two women are completely in agreement.
Let’s just face it, ladies. We all think we are right and we have the articles to prove it.
But as sisters in Christ, the battles shouldn’t be between us, for if we use all of our ammunition on each other, we have none left to fight the spiritual battles of this world.
In Rome, during the times of Paul’s writings, the believers were under strong persecution. They were fighting for their lives, struggling for the ability to worship freely, and all the while sharing with non-believers the beautiful saving grace of Jesus Christ. It would be fair to say that they had to be on guard at all times against the enemy.
However, the believers were fighting another type of battle. One that wasn’t even necessary. Romans 14:2 and 5 say, “For one believes he may eat all things (meaning meat likely sacrificed to idols), and he who is weak eats only vegetables…. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike.” The Christians in Rome were disagreeing over what to eat and when to worship. At the time, these two issues were not paramount in God’s eyes and only causing strife and discord among the believers.
While we no longer argue over these issues, Romans 14 speaks volumes to all of us who find ourselves caught up bantering back and forth on issues that are not of eternal significance.
Paul has given us four things to consider before we enter into disagreements with other Christians on hot topic issues.
- Check Your Attitude: Before Paul even gets going in chapter 14, he says in 13:13-14, “Let us walk properly…not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” When I see someone post something on social media that I disagree with, it is imperative that I immediately die to my flesh and not allow the door to open to strife. There is enough fighting all around us that we, as believers, do not need to join in the noise. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Jesus says in Matthew 5:9. If our only goal is to argue, Paul calls that fulfilling the lusts of our flesh. That goal is not fitting for a child of God.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Paul goes on to instruct in Romans 14:1, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” Paul is telling the believers who ate meat to receive (fellowship with) those who only ate vegetables and not to argue with them about it. Most of us believe that whoever agrees with us is strong in the faith and those who disagree with us are weak. Out of our own arrogance, we consider ourselves the plumb line to spiritual strength. However, I love how the Holman Christian Standard Bible says in its study notes: “The believer who is weak in the faith is overly conscientious about matters not regulated by Christian revelation.” Are you overly concerned with proving your point on issues that aren’t paramount to the Christian faith? I understand that, as women, we must make up our minds about certain topics. It is important that we, along with our husbands, make decisions as to how our family works. However, where scripture does not have clear lines, we must also give grace freely to our sisters who might choose differently from us. Within our friendships, there is vast opportunity to encourage, love, and support. Let us discuss those topics on Facebook. Let us tweet out those announcements. Paul describes it this way in verse 19, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
- Everyone’s Convictions Are between Themselves and the Lord: “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:6). Our God is a personal God, and He desires to have a personal relationship with us. Within that wonderful, personal relationship, we have a great privilege to come before the Lord in prayer and humility and ask Him to guide us in certain choices. Just like Solomon, if we ask for wisdom, God will give it to us. I remember when my son was just a newborn. We were trying to make decisions about vaccines and there were millions of voices out there trying to tell us to what to do. We tried to gain wisdom from our doctors and family, but it seemed like everyone we asked gave us a conflicting opinion from the one before. Finally, just Evan and I discussed it and prayed for wisdom from God, and we made our decision. There will always be people that disagree with us, but we know we came to the best decision for our family after seeking the Lord’s wisdom.
- Being right is not the ultimate goal: Our culture celebrates personal liberty. We are free to say anything we desire, especially in the world of social media. However, as believers, we must bind this liberty with the law of love. Paul admits to the Roman believers that, in regard to the meat they were discussing, nothing was unclean. However, if someone had a personal conviction and considered it unclean, to him it is unclean. He explains in verse 15, “Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.” Paul is saying that if someone has a personal conviction about an issue, it is not our job to argue with them or flaunt our freedoms. You might win the argument, but you have also destroyed a fellow sister in Christ.
If Paul were on Facebook, he would still be calling us to walk in love. Love is patient and love is kind…even on Facebook.