Nurture, don’t limit
Romans 14: 1-12 (NRSV)
14 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.
7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.”
12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
When I was 18 I went to college to study drama. Near the beginning of the course one of the lecturers, a female lecturer, dismissively told me I ‘had something of the page three girl about me.’ With these words she crushed my already fragile confidence. She made a judgement about me, based on my appearance. An appearance she placed absolutely no value on. She did not see my talent, or my character. She did not see ME! And I did not get the leading lady roles for I was not the ingenue, or the woman of substance. I was the comedy parts, the ‘tart with a heart’. I was a young woman just entering adulthood, on the journey of finding out who I was. This lecturer limited me by her judgement.
In the same way we should not judge a person by their appearance, Paul urges us not to judge a person by the strength of their faith. Some folk are out there putting their faith on show while others are quietly living it. We can’t tell the true depth of someone’s faith by what we see or hear or for that matter what we DON’T see or hear. We do not know another person’s heart. We don’t know how they experience, or DON’T experience God. We don’t know their inner struggles or challenges. Only God knows this. So, all we can do on our journey in faith is support one another, nurture one another, raise each other up and see the best in each other.
Forgive me when I judge someone on their appearance.
Forgive me when I write someone off because of their age, their race, their job or the way they speak.
Forgive me when I elevate myself and think I’m more spiritual than others.
Help me Father to build up and encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ
And help me to see you in every face I see each day.