Don't Criticize Others
1 Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.
5Some of the Lord's followers think one day is more important than another. Others think all days are the same. But each of you should make up your own mind. 6Any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord. And any followers who eat meat give thanks to God, just like the ones who don't eat meat.
7Whether we live or die, it must be for God, rather than for ourselves. 8Whether we live or die, it must be for the Lord. Alive or dead, we still belong to the Lord. 9This is because Christ died and rose to life, so that he would be the Lord of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you criticize other followers of the Lord? Why do you look down on them? The day is coming when God will judge all of us. 11 In the Scriptures God says,
“I swear by my very life
that everyone will kneel down
and praise my name!”
12And so, each of us must give an account to God for what we do.
There is a right answer: “Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables” (v 1). Clearly the strong in the faith “eat anything” and the weak in the faith don’t. Paul makes it clear that there is a right answer to whether a Christian can only eat certain foods or worship on certain days, dress a certain way, worship with certain music, or in a certain place, drink wine versus grape juice… According to Paul the more mature, or strong (v 19) in the faith can “eat” anything and worship anywhere! The less mature or “weak” in the faith are more dogmatic, more easily offended, more distracted by such things.
BUT notice what Paul does next: “What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right.” There is a right answer, but if we allow God to be God he will make sure to speak to us about what’s right. We are each on a journey moving from “weak” to mature. Remember that you once were “weak”. Be gentle with one another and stay focussed on Jesus (v 7) and be sure to walk with him.
When your four year old hands you a picture she drew, you don’t tell her that skies aren’t purple and that mommy is actually not as tall as a tree! You love that picture – even stick it up on the fridge! You especially love the words your child wrote on it, “to dad.” Those who believe that every day is the Lord’s day need to remember that others find meaning in remembering saints’ days and observing the liturgical year, and that “any followers who count one day more important than another day do it to honor their Lord” (v 6). None of our life pictures are perfect yet, but God loves each one. Who are we to criticize what God puts up on his fridge?!
Father, You continue to be so patient with me, yet I have different standards for others. I can be dogmatic, and grumpy with those “weaker” in the faith from me. I can be so impatient with others. Help me to relax in you, and be patient, kind and loving to others on the journey with me.