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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 14:1–12      

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 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. 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. 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. 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. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 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, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 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. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then, each of us will be accountable to God. (NRSV)

Dalai Lama XIV once said, “Love is the absence of judgment.” That’s a very hard sentiment to let sink in. How often do we say we love someone yet we notice ourselves judging and even criticizing the way they behave or the choices they make? It can be as simple as picking apart their wardrobe or their choice in music. We easily assert our opinion and expertise on everyone we don’t know, and sometimes even more so on those we do know and say we love.

In today’s scripture, Paul reminds us our faith calls us to something higher and something more humbling. To be followers of Christ, we are called to live without judgment of another, especially when it comes to another’s practice of their faith. Yes, we are taught certain doctrine and scripture. But we lose sight of all that when we focus our energy on comparing our practice or ritual to that of another and examine it with critical eyes and hearts.

Paul reminds us that only God can assess our faith and devotion. We must humble ourselves and not accept a responsibility that is not ours to bear. Instead we should continue to devote our lives to following Christ by loving and accepting and cherishing our neighbors, despite how different their faith looks from our own. Let us continue to nurture our humility in our words, our hearts, and our faith.

God of love and acceptance, gently guide us toward lives of humility and service. Remind us to look at one another with genuine love and be free from judgment and difference. Help us find peace in this lifelong journey. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens Harris, Director,
Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center

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