1Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see
things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time
they do or say something you don't agree with--even when it seems
that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department.
Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them
gently. 2For instance, a person who has been around for a while
might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table,
while another, with a different background, might assume all
Christians should be vegetarians and eat accordingly. 3But
since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly
rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat?
God, after all, invited them both to the table. 4Do you
have any business crossing people off the guest list or
interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be
made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your
5Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be
set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much
like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person
is free to follow the convictions of conscience. 6What's important in all this is that if you keep a
holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the
glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian,
eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. 7None
of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. 8It's
God we are answerable to--all the way from life to death and
everything in between--not each other. 9That's why
Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our
Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from
the petty tyrannies of each other.
10So where does that leave you when you criticize a
brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a
sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly--or worse.
Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the
place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending
ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. 11Read
it for yourself in Scripture: "As I live and breathe," God says,"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God."
12So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full
just taking care of your own life before God. 13Forget about deciding what's right for each other.
Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in
the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it
already is. 14I'm convinced--Jesus convinced me!-that
everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way
we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it. 15If you confuse others by making a big issue over what
they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in
love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died.
Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? 16Don't
you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of
soul-poisoning! 17God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your
stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as
he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. 18Your
task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill
two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving
your worth to the people around you. 19So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along
with each other. Help others with encouraging words; 20don't
drag them down by finding fault.