“I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
I will say to God, Do not condemn me;
let me know why you contend against me.
Does it seem good to you to oppress,
to despise the work of your hands
and favor the designs of the wicked?
Have you eyes of flesh?
Do you see as man sees?
Are your days as the days of man,
or your years as a man's years,
that you seek out my iniquity
and search for my sin,
although you know that I am not guilty,
and there is none to deliver out of your hand?
Your hands fashioned and made me,
and now you have destroyed me altogether.
Remember that you have made me like clay;
and will you return me to the dust?
Did you not pour me out like milk
and curdle me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and knit me together with bones and sinews.
You have granted me life and steadfast love,
and your care has preserved my spirit.
Yet these things you hid in your heart;
I know that this was your purpose.
If I sin, you watch me
and do not acquit me of my iniquity.
If I am guilty, woe to me!
If I am in the right, I cannot lift up my head,
for I am filled with disgrace
and look on my affliction.
And were my head lifted up, you would hunt me like a lion
and again work wonders against me.
You renew your witnesses against me
and increase your vexation toward me;
you bring fresh troops against me.
“Why did you bring me out from the womb?
Would that I had died before any eye had seen me
and were as though I had not been,
carried from the womb to the grave.
Are not my days few?
Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer
before I go—and I shall not return—
to the land of darkness and deep shadow,
the land of gloom like thick darkness,
like deep shadow without any order,
where light is as thick darkness.”
(Job 10 ESV)
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 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. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
(Romans 14 ESV)
Romans 14: The Christian life is a life primarily about Christ; not Christian privileges. The more we focus on Christ and agree with Christ and agree about Christ then the more we will agree with one another. Christ-centered conversations are conducive to Christian unity. After all, we must accept one another just as Christ has accepted us and has planned from the very beginning for a future day in which strong and weak will worship together in perfect harmony with one another for the glory of God.
In studying these passages, it’s easy to feel a disconnect regarding these “disputable matters” that seem so irrelevant to us today. However, throughout this entire portion of Scripture there are two very important principles that we must come to understand:
Everything must be done “from faith”. We must grow in our understanding of God’s Word in order to grow in our faith which causes us to grow in our convictions leading us to grow in our Christian assurance and freedom. We must grow to know what is true and what we ought to do.
Everything must be done in love. Permissible things are practiced in an impermissible manner when they are not practiced in love. We need to remember that our fellow Christians are our brothers and sisters in the family of God having the same Father and the same Elder Brother. Proper brotherly behavior is to serve, honor and respect all members of God’s family in spite of our disagreements.
Therefore, in our efforts to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” may we carefully and cautiously discern and practice the proper combination of faith and love regarding the essentials and non-essentials of Christian doctrine and practice.