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Accept Those Who Are Weak in Faith



“Accept the one whose faith is weak without quarrelling over disputable matters.”


Romans 14

 

I think it’s incredibly easy to think we’ve got things figured out. In our pursuit of absolute truth I’m sure many of us do our best to ascertain the right path based on the sum of our experience and our ability to make sense of how faith and our tangible world coexist.


Personally, I think that as I venture further into adulthood my ability to accept people for where they are at is becoming more difficult likely due to gaining experience. I begin to fashion a worldview that makes sense of what I have experienced based on what I perceive to have happened. In response, I mold a belief that when others navigate similar situations that their experiences will be like mine: their pain will be the same, their consequences will be the same. While this is true when it comes to objective actions such as touching a hot stove, questions of faith prove to be a more personal experience.


One of the most difficult lessons I’ve come to learn is that it’s not my job to be God to others. Proverbs 14:12 says that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Does this mean that there is no absolute truth? I don’t think so, but I think that it’s a faulty expectation to believe that others will arrive at the same truth in the same manner as we have. Essentially, how we get “there” (sanctification) looks differently in everyone’s life and involves a different matter of timing, pain, consequence, and patience.


When speaking to the people, Jesus is often quoted as saying, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear”. I imagine that there were many types of people walking by that day: those who were too busy to stop and listen, those who were skeptical of Him, those who wanted to stop and listen but were overcome by their responsibilities, those who listened but didn’t quite get it, and then those who fully received his message that day. Matthew 13:3-8 talks of how seeds, when thrown, fall on different types of ground. At times, we can be like a rocky place with thorns while at others we are fertile soil.


But what happens when someone doesn’t accept us if our faith in an area is weak? What if we dispute absolute truth and adjust our behaviors based on pacifying our relations with man instead of allowing God to cultivate our faith to change our hearts? The entire premise of Jesus is acceptance as we are. That doesn’t mean that He gives permission for what we do; on the contrary, God allows us to experience every consequence for our action while expressing empathy in the midst of our messy journey through sanctification. Likewise, I think it’s important to not impose our beliefs on others since we never truly know if that’s what they need in that moment.


In so many situations I thought I knew exactly what someone needed especially in my most recent role as a counselor. I listen to the point where I see a break in the person’s thinking carefully seeking that moment where I am, often pridefully, able to solve their problem with what I perceive to be the missing ingredient. “I changed their life”, I can deceive myself into believing when I discover a cognitive solution to someone’s issue. But people aren’t that simple. We have layers upon layers of intertwined feelings and relationships and circumstances, and anyone who believes they are capable of resolving these for another is only fooling themselves.


True sanctification has to come from the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus, we are called to speak into the lives of people who are not only ready to hear but are willing, and it has to be for their benefit and not for the benefit of our own hubris. The cool thing is that we don’t have to stress about getting the when, where and how right - this often leads to the “disputable matters” to which this verse alludes. 1 Corinthians 13 says that we are to be patient, kind, long-suffering, and not puffed up. In fact Isaiah 12 says that God is our salvation and our role in the relationship is to trust… not only in His workings in our life but in the lives of others.


Honestly, I think one of the most beautiful things is watching faith grow in the life of someone who is overcoming things through allowing God to love them in the midst of their various seasons in life. Understanding that there is a boundary between myself an another person and allowing them the freedom to have a relationship with God - who bears the actual responsibility of salvation and sanctification - helps me remember that I am only a son charged to love others in the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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