Summary: While we should stand uncompromisingly against things strictly forbidden by Scripture, we should not create additional rules formed from our opinions and give them the same standing as God’s law.
A. There have been many instances in church history where Christians have differed in their interpretation of certain Scripture passages or about doctrines.
B. Our day of worship is an example. I grew up being taught not to work on Sunday. For the most part, all the Old Testament stipulations concerning the Sabbath were applied to Sunday.
1. Sunday, however, is not the Sabbath though some refer to it as the Christian Sabbath.
2. Nor is there any justification that I can find for transferring Sabbath regulations to Sunday.
3. Here again, however, this is an issue believers differ over.
C. Other examples include: dancing, drinking, smoking, movies, playing cards, manner of dress, gambling, listening to other than Christian music, attending sporting events on Sunday, etc.
D. In fact, our denomination-Southern Baptists, was formed over the difference of opinion concerning slavery.
E. Our differences over such matters can be attributed to various things: tradition, what our parents taught, what a particular teacher or preacher taught, our culture, what we were taught in school, etc.
F. It is really not important who taught us what or why we think as we do. The more important matter is whether our thinking or conclusions align with what the Bible actually teaches. The passage is not dealing with clear commandments but opinions.
G. Jesus was fond of saying; “You have heard it said,” and then saying, “But I say.” So much of what the people had been taught-and from religious authorities, was wrong because they left out the inner motives. They bound people by traditions with the same intensity as they did God’s law.
H. We must be sensitive to and respect those who disagree with us, especially in matters the Bible is not clear on. An example would be the various opinions held concerning what events will take place near, at and after the Second Coming.
I. Paul deals at length with sensitivity among believers in this chapter.
J. Perhaps an old adage is pertinent: “In essentials; unity, in nonessentials, liberty; in everything, love.
I. Grace And Dealing With Weaker Christians (vv. 1-11)
A. Our different stages.
1. It is important for us to remember believers are all at different stages of spiritual maturity.
2. I knew a lady once who was a Christian counselor, and we would talk about some of the odd ways believers would act-ways out of character for a Christian. She would always remind me that the actions reflect their level of spiritual maturity-babes, children, teens or adulthood.
3. Not only are we at different stages but we also have different things in our background-either before or after coming to know Christ.
4. Combine this with family and church tradition and it becomes easy to understand why we have differences.
B. Paul says we are to accept fellow believers who are weak in the faith while not arguing with them about what they think is right or wrong.
1. Arguing leads to further divisiveness and is never a good witness to the lost or those young in the faith.
2. You are familiar with the prominent saying about Baptists: “We multiply by dividing.” Sad but often true.
3. You are also familiar with the saying; “Variety is the spice of life.”
4. Rather than dividing us, variety can enhance our relationships and help us grow spiritually when approached and handled in a Christlike spirit.
5. We can accept, listen to and respect others without accepting their beliefs or opinions. There is a history for why they believe as they do. Normally, no amount of arguing will convince them otherwise. God will have to take care of this.
6. “A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”
7. In the years of my ministry, I have had numerous discussions with other believers about things we differed over. Some I’ve already mentioned. I could add another: which translation of the Bible is best.
8. I attended college with a man who was firmly convinced that God inspired the scholars who translated the King James Version of the Bible but had not any other translations. There is no proof whatsoever for such a conclusion, but it was futile to argue with him over it. He is free to use whatever translation he wants and to form whatever opinion he chooses.
9. Where we get into trouble is when we try to force our opinions about these and other inconclusive things on fellow believers and then make them rules for association.
10. Where the Bible is clear, stand firm, but where it is not, give openness for differences.
11. A further problem is encountering some who take matters that are not biblically clear but in their mind they are.
12. Both the weak and strong believer can make two mistakes: the believer who understand his liberty in Christ can look down on the weaker brother, while the weaker believer can fall into censoring, criticizing and judging.