Sunday, May 30, 2010

Romans 15: Two Are Better Than One

Romans 15:1-2, 5-7: "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification...Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ has also accepted us to the glory of God."

While reading this verse the first word that came to mind was "addiction". As I'm writing this though, I think a more general term for a more general audience would be "distraction". I was first reminded of a friend's husband who has spent the last week trying to give up smoking. I thought of him when I read, "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement..." It got me thinking that we all probably have addictions in our lives (a substance like drugs, alcohol, or food; a pastime like video games, exercise, or Facebook...). If not, then I know I can safely say that we all have distractions---things that are taking our time and focus away from the things that really matter like playing with our kids, listening to our spouses, or meditating on God's word.

As I continued thinking and writing, I began to apply these verses to the struggle that my husband and I are having with trying to break our own addictions to food and the things that have distracted us from a more active lifestyle. I thought of us when I read, "Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves."

The truth of the matter regarding addictions and distractions is that every one of us has got them---and every one of them has the potential to lead us into a sinful lifestyle and every sin is equally damning and ultimately, equally destructive so...where am I going with this? We need to STOP JUDGING!

We need to stop not only judging others and saying, "what I'm doing might be bad but at least I'm not doing what SHE does," but we need to also stop judging ourselves by comparing ourselves to another and saying, "I'm less loved by God/less worthy of salvation/less allowed forgiveness than SHE is because what I've done is worse."

The only person we should be comparing ourselves to or judging ourselves and others by is Christ. Anyone with brains and a shred of humility will admit that we can never measure up to Christ and that's where God's grace comes in...(but that's another subject).

The point that I'm so "wordily" trying to make is that instead of approaching addictions and distractions from a negative, judgemental and unproductive point of view, we should instead find ways to address them in a way that's positive, proactive, and might actually lead to a change someday.

We are all, at some point or another, going to be the weaker brother. (See 1 Corinthians 8:7-13: "Therefore if food (*or whatever else could be an addiction or distraction*) causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble"). As brothers and sisters we need to bear the weaknesses of those around us who are struggling, knowing that our weak times are sure to come as well.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 teaches us that "Two are better than one...for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up." And, "A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (That third "strand" can be another "brother" or, better yet, God!)

Rather than spending useless time blaming, judging, gossiping about or trying to "fix" our fellow man, we should focus on standing beside him, lifting him up in prayer, giving him encouragement, and accepting him in the place he's at while reminding him that there's a better way too! Sometimes a silent example is better than words...just something to think about! :)

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Mrs. Sarah Coller

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