Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”
“Disputable matters.” Have you ever wondered what they are?
To be sure, there are non-negotiables—the essentials of the Christian faith—the deity of Christ, salvation by God’s grace and not by works, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the Gospel, monotheism and the Holy Trinity. Clearly, we see in the Bible that some things are right, because the Bible says they are right. Other things are wrong, because the Bible says they are wrong. These would be the things we call the essentials of our faith; they are clearly non-negotiable.
However, there are some things the Bible neither condemns nor approves—you can think of these things as the “non-essentials” of the faith. In other words, the disputable matters. As we live out our faith, we will encounter a host of issues for which there is no clear teaching. These are the gray areas that are non-essentials—Christian teachings that are neutral—things that are neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture.
A few examples of these are: the different teachings on end-times, the number of angels, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, whether or not to participate in traditional holidays like Halloween, church on Saturday evening or not, contemporary or traditional worship services, what color of carpet to have in a church, or what time of the day a service should be held, and decisions to have musical instruments or just strictly vocals. All of these are non-essential to the faith. These are secondary issues, and yet they are the things that often cause conflict in the Church.
So what do we do about disputable matters? We simply don’t quarrel about issues that are matters of opinion. There is much that we can differ on. Differences should not be feared or avoided, but rather they should be handled with love. Through sharing ideas, we can come to a fuller understanding of what the Bible teaches. We need to accept, listen to, and respect others.
So what should we do when confronted with disputable matters? Below are three things I think we should always keep in mind:
Avoid irritation: Being visibly impatient with someone will get you nowhere. A better approach would be to seek to understand where they are coming from.
Don’t ridicule: Ridiculing only creates winners and losers; it’s divisive. It invalidates a person.
Avoid contempt: Again, contempt only furthers to divide us.
Are there things that you hold strongly to that are ‘disputable matters’? How would you know if it is a disputable matter? You can start by asking yourself why it’s so important to you. How do you respond when someone disagrees with a stance you may have taken on an issue?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.