Job 11 & Romans 15

Job 11

    Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

    “Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
        and a man full of talk be judged right?
    Should your babble silence men,
        and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
    For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure,
        and I am clean in God's eyes.’
    But oh, that God would speak
        and open his lips to you,
    and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
        For he is manifold in understanding.
    Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.
    
    
    “Can you find out the deep things of God?
        Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
    It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
        Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
    Its measure is longer than the earth
        and broader than the sea.
    If he passes through and imprisons
        and summons the court, who can turn him back?
    For he knows worthless men;
        when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
    But a stupid man will get understanding
        when a wild donkey's colt is born a man!
    
    
    “If you prepare your heart,
        you will stretch out your hands toward him.
    If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
        and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
    Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
        you will be secure and will not fear.
    You will forget your misery;
        you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
    And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
        its darkness will be like the morning.
    And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
        you will look around and take your rest in security.
    You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
        many will court your favor.
    But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
        all way of escape will be lost to them,
        and their hope is to breathe their last.”
    

(Job 11 ESV)

Romans 15

    We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

    For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

    “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,
        and sing to your name.”
    
    
        And again it is said,

    “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
    
    
        And again,

    “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
        and let all the peoples extol him.”
    
    
        And again Isaiah says,

    “The root of Jesse will come,
        even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
    in him will the Gentiles hope.”
    
    
        May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

    I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written,

    “Those who have never been told of him will see,
        and those who have never heard will understand.”
    
    
        This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

    I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

(Romans 15 ESV)

Romans 15: According to the apostle Paul, it is important for those who may be stronger or more mature in their faith to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.” Therefore, when disagreements arise, although my position may be the correct position, I’m not permitted to run cavalier all over my weaker brother. The great paradox for the strong in faith is that lawful things can be done unlawfully. We are not to frustrate the faith of our weaker Christian brothers by exercising our freedom in their face. When it comes to non-essentials regarding the Christian faith, we’ve been called to defer to the weaker brother’s conviction regardless of whether they might be mistaken or not. 

Suppose I am “fully convinced” that the Christian is free to have a drink of alcohol from time to time, but you’re “fully convinced” that a Christian is to absolutely abstain from alcohol. If I invited you over to my house, I would not offer you a drink nor would I have a drink myself in your presence. If you invited me over to your house, I would not bring alcohol, and I would not expect you to have any. 

Paul says that when we cause distress for our Christian brothers regarding these 'disputable matters’ then we are no longer acting in love. True love limits our own freedoms out of respect for others. 

When we argue with our weaker brothers over their position on non-essential matters of the faith, then ironically we become the ones taking these non-essential matters too seriously. It’s a complete loss of proper Christian perspective.

Paul says we are to “make every effort” to do whatever we can to promote peace, harmony and unity among the Christian community. It’s best to hold our positions on ‘disputable matters’ with great humility and in privacy between ourselves and God rather than putting them on public display in pursuit of an argument or debate.

This call to regain the proper Christian perspective leads Paul to order those stronger in their faith to follow Christ’s example of self-denial. In light of how much Christ denied Himself for the sake of sinful man, can we not deny ourselves some of our freedoms for the sake of respecting and honoring our brothers in Christ?