by Luma Simms
A few weeks ago a few friends and I were bantering back and forth about what our children watch on TV.
It was a playful exchange.
At one point I realized how two years ago it would not have been friendly or playful at all. My mind would have been full of criticisms and my heart would have stood over that conversation with judgment.
You see, my heart used to be a very sick heart. I was a Christian, but I had set aside the gospel as something that was just for getting me into the kingdom. I set my heart on other things at the expense of cherishing Christ: becoming a “godly” wife and woman, being content in domesticity and doing it well, offering unparalleled hospitality, keeping my children as far away from worldliness as possible, homeschooling because it was the only truly “godly” way of educating children, healthy whole food eating because that meant I was in line with a more “biblical” agrarian type of living, and on and on… you get the picture.
I had “gospel amnesia,” big time.
You don’t need to have full-blown gospel amnesia like I did to despise other women, tear them down, and pass judgment on their choices. When we forget the gospel and turn away from the charity and grace we are called to have for one another we can turn into women who look sideways at each other.
I’ve learned so much about grace from Romans 14:1-4:
“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 judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”
On its face, Romans 14:1 says that there are Christians with stronger and weaker faith, and that the one with stronger faith should welcome the one with weaker faith and not quarrel over things that are a matter of opinion.
Paul assumes here that there are indeed things in the Christian life that are a matter of opinion and not of primary “salvific” importance.
So, from verse one we know: We need to welcome each other; we should not snub each other, or refuse or avoid fellowship with each other, and we should not quarrel over matters of opinion.
If we apply the principle here to any type of secondary matter (e.g. children’s entertainment choices, education choices, diet choices, diapering/clothing choices, birth choices, etc.), we see that the Christian with stronger faith has a broader acceptable spectrum, whereas the Christian with weaker faith has a narrow understanding of what is acceptable or right.
When it comes to secondary (non-sin) issues we are tempted to strain gnats and swallow camels (Matt. 23:24). Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’…” (Matt. 9:13) and “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matt. 12:7).
I grieve in my spirit when I remember how I have condemned the guiltless.
One of the most important manifestations of gospel living is treating each other with grace and charity. Scripture says that a gracious woman retains/gets honor/gains respect (Prov. 11:16). Nitpicking at each other and judging each others choices will not make us women of honor. In the end, we will make a mockery of the grace of Christ when the world sees our lack of graciousness.
May we who love Jesus and cherish his gospel look on each other with a tender grace that seeks to build each other up with sisterly affection rather than tear each other down by rendering our personal standards as the watermark of sanctification.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Pet. 3:8).
ABOUT THE WRITER
Luma (@lumasimms) is a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. Luma grew up in Iraq and Greece before her family moved to the US. Luma is educated in physics and law, and is especially passionate about applying the message of the gospel to the important cultural and theological issues of our day. Luma is the author of Gospel Amnesia (forthcoming) and she blogs at Gospel Grace.