Strengthening, Or Weakening?
What have I been saying and doing that might conceivably weaken another person’s faith or harm his Christian life?
Alright, thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright? We’re together by means of the miracle of radio, God given, in this instant, to us as an opportunity of looking into God’s Word. So let’s do it. Romans chapter 14 starts with the concept of the person who is weak in the faith. He said, “Receive him”. Don’t argue with him, love him, don’t argue with him, a very good principle. Did you know that you don’t have to win arguments, really? You don’t have to answer back everything.
If you’re having stormy domestic weather, try not answering back. You’ll be amazed at what it will do if you just don’t try to answer everything. Don’t try to win every discussion. Acknowledge, for once, that the other person has a right to his or her point of view even though it’s different from your own, huh? Pretty good idea. Paul says a person who is weak in the faith and who may differ from you, therefore, in matters having to do with procedure, don’t argue with him – doubtful disputations – but love him; receive him. That’s the principle.
I’ll tell you what will happen. If people know that your heart is open to them, they feel safe with you. They are more apt to agree with your point of view on the things that really count. And the usual gravel that gets into the situation will be absent if they know they’re in the presence of someone who genuinely loves them because of Jesus, our blessed Lord. Now this is without question—that is the way it works. If, however, people know that you’re out to win a discussion and you’re going to debate the point and you’re standing against them from the word go, well, they themselves, then, will be on the defensive and there’ll be a gravelly situation that is devoid of the real fellowship for which Christ died and rose again.
Specialize on receiving people in real Calvary love. They can feel it. They’ll know. You don’t have to say it. Let your heart open to them and they’ll know. The second thing that Paul says in this 14th chapter is that it’s not our business – yours and mine – to judge other people. “Who art thou,” said he, “that judgest another man’s servant?” There are two things that we generally do if we differ with other people and consider them not particularly advanced in spiritual things. One, he uses the word “despise.” You look down on them. And the other word that he uses is “judge.”
And this is repeated a little later on in the passage—the idea of despising or looking down on people. A little later on, he uses the phrase “set at naught”, same thing and the idea of judging another person. Twice then in this 14th chapter we are warned against that twofold temptation that a person faces when you’re in the company of someone else who differs with you on Christian procedural matters. Can I do this or it can I do that. He said, “This person is serving God. The Lord is his master. And, you and I then, don’t have any business judging another man’s servant.”
Then right in the middle of the chapter – this is all a review but I’m going over it because some of you may have missed it in the days that have gone by – right in the middle of the chapter is this tremendous truth about the Lordship of Christ, “Whether we live or die, we do so unto the Lord.” “He that regardeth a certain day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not a certain day, to the Lord he does not regard it.”
“He that eateth, eateth to the Lord; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For no one of us liveth for himself alone or dies for himself alone, whether we live, we live unto the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. And this is the reason Christ died and rose again that He might be Lord of the dead and the living.”
So right in the middle of this chapter is this tremendous truth of the Lordship of Christ as being the catalyst – now, don’t miss this, beloved; this is the point: the Lordship of Christ is the catalyst that brings together people of differing ideas. The great common denominator is the Lordship of Christ. If Jesus is Lord, I’m going to want to be a blessing and of help to you and you to me regardless of the fact that we may indeed differ on the color that the boiler room in the church is supposed to be painted.
Very few things are worth dying for. When you have made a list of the things you’re willing to die for, everything else can be negotiated or completely ignored. Let the other person do it his way if he must. Don’t look down on him and don’t judge him, Paul says, because he belongs to the Lord Jesus. And that is to say the Lordship of Christ is the determining factor when it comes to real Christian fellowship. Not only that, but the idea of individual responsibility enters in. I am responsible for me. I’m responsible to see that I don’t put a stumbling block in your way.
I’m responsible to be prepared for the judgment seat of Christ. “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ”, says Paul in the 10th verse of this 14th chapter. Every one of us shall give account of himself to God. So, he said, you be concerned that you don’t stumble or hinder your brother or sister. The kingdom of God- the proof of the Lordship of Christ; the proof that God is running things; the proof that God is your King—you can put it any way you wish. The proof of the Lordship of Christ is not what you do or don’t do in terms of meat and drink and religious observances.
It’s not the things you do to be officially religious, is the way I put it, “but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost”, these things are the proof that Jesus is Lord. So he said “let’s follow—pursue the things that make for peace and things wherewith one may build another up.” “All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” Now this, then, is the rule I must follow.
Not only can I get away with it, not only can I do this with a clear conscience but what is the effect going to be upon my brothers and sisters in Christ? Now you’ve got three words there that he uses: stumble, offend, make weak. Stumble, that means to lead a person into something that for him is sin. “Stumble” is to lead a person into something that for him or her is sin. “Offend” is to do or say something that leaves the Spirit grieved, leaves the person offended and unhappy. “Made weak,” that’s very clear, isn’t it? To weaken the spiritual life and fabric of another person by what you say or do. So he said don’t do any one of these things. Nothing can be good; nothing can be in the will of God if at the same time it causes somebody else to stumble into sin or if it causes somebody else to be hurt and grieved or if it causes somebody else to be weakened in his spiritual life. It can’t possibly be in the will of God for me if it has that effect upon somebody else. That is what Paul is telling us. Now, somebody else says, “Well, you can’t legislate for me all of these things that are matters of faith and I get my orders from God.” You’ve heard that before, haven’t you?
Well, Paul answers that. He says, “Hast thou faith?” “Okay, you get your orders from God? Well,” he says, “have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth,” because if the thing I do with a perfectly clear conscience ends up making somebody else weaker in his Christian faith or ends up hurting somebody else and grieving his spirit or ends up stumbling somebody else and letting him fall into sin; if what I do with a clear conscience has that effect, brother, I’m in trouble.
So he says, “You get your orders from God? Okay. Get your orders from God but keep it for yourself.” “Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God.” Don’t let the things that you think you can do with a clear conscience impinge upon the lives of others who may not have the same standards. The man who used to be the advertising manager of Time years ago wrote, as I recall reading somewhere this sentence: The beginning of learning about advertising is to learn that we exist by the consent of others.
That’s what business has had to learn as they developed what is now called the Marketing Concept. It’s not that you manufacturer 144,000 widgets and then say to the salesman “Go out and sell those widgets.” Now business says, “What do people need? We’ll help to meet their need.” Marketing finds out what the need is and fills it. Sales builds an item and merchandises it. There’s the difference. And so businesses had to learn the same thing. It’s not what I think I can do that counts, it’s what I do that has an effect upon other people that is important.
Now, ask yourself this question: What have I been saying and doing that might conceivably weaken another person’s faith or harm his Christian life? This type of inventory will drive us to our knees and it will moisten our eyes with tears but it will purify our testimony and make us more of a blessing as the days go by. My precious friend, let’s you and I specialize in strengthening other people in their faith, not weakening it. Good idea?
Dear Father God today, we pray that thou wouldst help us to be strengtheners of other people, by what we say and do, may we strengthen their faith, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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