I have a shirt that says, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
The original author of this quote is unknown, but the concept has been around since biblical times.
I was reading Romans 14 the other day, and the whole chapter struck me as especially applicable to this year and this time in which we live. A letter, penned by Paul, to the early church, thousands of years ago, yet the message has not changed.
“Now accept the one who weak in faith, but not to have quarrels over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)
“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But as for you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you as well, why do regard your brother or sister with contempt? For we will all appear before the judgment seat of God.” (Romans 14:7-10)
Breaking down vs 1 a little more, “Now accept the one who is weak in the faith, [but] not for [the purpose of] passing judgment on his opinions.”
Sidebar: There are a number of clearly black and white things established in the word of God . . . things that the bible makes abundantly clear are sin without any compromise or question. And if the Bible establishes something as sin, then that is final. There’s no question about it, but I can acknowledge sin while still being kind. As cliché as it may be, we absolutely are called to hate the sin and love the sinner. And fyi, we’re all sinners and our salvation only comes through the blood of Christ.
Having said that, there are a myriad of things . . . a lot of judgments passed both within the church and outside of it . . . a lot of quarrels and arguments we choose to have over things never mentioned in the bible . . . things that are in no way established as sin in God’s word. Not even close. Yet these are the hills on which we choose to take our stand. These are the hills on which we choose to die . . . and while that may seem melodramatic, it’s also very true. Because these quarrels, disagreements, and arguments kill relationships within the body of Christ. They divide churches and ruin our witness to the world. If we can’t get along within the church . . . if we can’t have grace and compassion and love for one another . . . what does that say to a world that is desperately searching for and seeking someone to heal their pain? And y’all, make no mistake, all the sin, the immorality, the headlong rush into sensuality and immoral pleasures . . . people are trying to fill a void that only Christ can fill. They are trying to mask a pain that runs deep and wide, and that can only be truly healed by the love of God.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. We all have areas where our faith is strong, and likewise, we all will have areas where we struggle.
Enter Romans 14 . . . and if you haven’t read the chapter in its entirety, I encourage you to do just that.
We can look around us at the weaknesses of others . . . we can puff up and be proud of our own strengths (I’ve done it more than I care to admit) . . . we can make sure to tear others down with thinly veiled judgments and sarcasm . . . or we can come in and walk alongside one another in our weaknesses. Where our brothers and sisters are weak, we can be strong. And they can do the same for us. The church, the body of Christ, should not be the place where we’re afraid to admit our weaknesses. It should not be the place where we attack the moment we see even the smallest hint of fragility. No, instead, it should instead be the place where we swoop in to love and offer grace upon grace. A place where we feel the safe to admit our struggles and seek the strength and encouragement of others in our most vulnerable moments. The “church” should be the safest place on earth. A place where kindness reigns. Not that we ever sacrifice what is right and good, but that we acknowledge what is right in such a way that we help one another to become more like Christ with each passing moment.
As I was thinking on these words from Romans, I remembered a song we used to sing when I was a teenager in youth about a million years ago . . . a song Chris Tomlin wrote long before everyone knew who Chris Tomlin was,
"You're my brother, you're my friend. You're my beginning, you're my end. You're all around me when the world turns and walks away. You're my sunshine on a cloudy day, You're the rain that washed the blues away. I can always count on you. You're my brother. You're my friend."*
And that’s it. We can either be there for one another. Or not. We can either be the one that builds others up or the one that tears them apart. We can support others in a way that helps them grow in faith and strength through encouragement and grace. Or not. We can be kind when it’s easiest to be anything and everything but. Or not. The choice is ours.
Copyright 2020, Courtney G Davis, All Rights Reserved The writings and images contained within this site are the intellectual property of this writer unless otherwise noted, and may not be copied or used without express permission of the author
* Chris Tomlin – Album, Inside Your Love, “Brother Friend”, 1995