Dealing with People

Claudia Elzinga

READ : Romans 14-16

The Bible says that the way to show that we love God is to love people created in his image. Therefore, we are to welcome people into our churches, though they differ with us on “secondary issues.” One problem, of course, is deciding what is secondary. Certainly right belief regarding the deity of Christ and salvation by faith in him alone does not fall in that category, while issues like diet and how to celebrate religious holidays do. If we think people are weaker in the faith than we are, we are to be especially gentle with them.

A basic Pauline principle is “let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to edify him” (15:2). We are not to be concerned about pleasing ourselves. That is easier said than done. The question which is to control our behavior is, “Does this edify (build up in the faith of) the other person?” The spiritual growth of others must take priority over pleasing ourselves.

It is not enough to have the right principles; we must put them into practice in dealing with the flesh-and-blood people with whom we come into contact. In the final chapter, Paul mentions individuals for whom he has concern. He assumes a fellowship of believers in which each one is encouraging the other. He ends with the theme “to God be the glory.” To glorify God is to show publicly how great he is. We do that by expressing in action our love for others.

PRAYER

Father, give us the grace no longer to have as our goal personal pleasure but rather the good of others. Amen.