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It is time to stop...

13 So don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong. 
(Romans 14:13 TLB)

Paul has spent a great deal of time in this letter to the Roman church explaining the plan of salvation, but he has also corrected some 'bad behavior' that needed a little adjusting. In this sense, he is acting more like a father to them than we might first think. He isn't content to allow the pettiness of comparison to go on in this 'family of God' because he knows just how damaging that can be when it gets a foothold. Comparison is usually coupled with criticism - they are partners in crime. I have learned it is easier to criticize than to seek to understand. It is more convenient to point out faults than to help someone overcome them. Yet, if we are to be a cohesive family unit, we need to put both of these weapons away.

In the time Paul is writing, there is much debate over what is okay to eat and what must be rejected by a 'holy person' because it may have been slaughtered and used as a sacrifice to someone other than God himself. Therefore, the meat was considered 'unclean' or 'unholy'. There was just as much tension about what days to observe - this one believing there were certain feast days and holy-days that needed everyone's attention, while another one believed worship happened whenever and wherever the heart was so moved. The rigid of the faith were having a hard time with the more lenient of the faith - those more 'knowledgeable' in their faith were finding it hard to accept the actions of those not quite as 'learned' in their beliefs. 

Simple faith oftentimes gets a bum wrap. The more 'religious' among us find it hard to accept that a man can have any less commitment to the things they find 'meaningful' than they do themselves. It is a point of contention many times - one thinking this is the set of rules by which we must live, while others don't quite get what all the rules mean yet. As long as we can remember back into the history of this world, the same things keep happening - someone compares what they think is right with what another believes is just fine for them. Then there is anguish because there is a disagreement over these things.

While I don't like the idea of compromise, I do think there is middle-ground for believers. We have to tolerate that there are different ways to dress when we come to church, but we don't have to compromise on the fact that there is but one God, one Son of God, and that his actions on our behalf are always gracious. We might not always see the importance of the rules, but we can all agree God made the rules for our good, not because he wants to deny us anything good. We don't have to continuously defend our position if our position incorporates the love and grace of God in our actions! Just sayin!

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