Choosing the Right Hill to Die On

Growing up we had many debates about what music a Christian could listen to, what books they should read, and whether they should go to the movie theatre.  The superior Christians made sure that their standards of abstaining from music, movies and all media was well-known.  Over time the pendulum shifted and those who chose to listen to AC/DC, read Harry Potter, and watch Mad Max communicated their ascendancy.  In both cases it seemed like coming down on the right side of the issue was more important than maintaining love and unity.

In Romans 14 Paul refers to those who dictate their moral choices to others in the church ‘weak’.  This seems to sound wrong.  Wouldn’t it be the strong who make a strong stance on moral grounds?  In the essentials of the faith, it is important not to compromise.  However, throughout history there have been those who have wrecked families and split churches over the non-essentials.  In such cases the mature position is to be winsome and to give up the rights I have.  We are not to judge (that is condemn) people who dress, sing, or speak differently from us.  This passage counters racial prejudice, inter-generational conflict, and family feuding.  Maybe we need to be a bit wiser as to which hill we will die on.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honour of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honour of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For 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. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.


About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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