Dear brothers George, Tony and Wallace,
I appreciate you coming to me last week and I appreciate the openness that you all shared, and your desire to continue working together for the Glory of Christ. After much prayer and counsel with other brethren I penned this letter in hopes that it will give you clarity and help resolve the issues you have among you.
Wallace, I appreciate your candidness and your humility in acknowledging that you are weak and need help understanding these matters. As a new Christian, who came out of the Seventh Day Adventist sect, we appreciate your desire for truth. Don’t become discouraged – I know you own a successful Vegan Grocery Store and it is a great encouragement to learn how you have used it to further the Gospel of Christ. In fact, I heard the other day that you had 2 more employees that have accepted the simple Gospel of Christ.
George, I appreciate your testimony over the years, and your steadfastness. Being raised in on a ranch in Texas separated from a lot of traditions and worldly influence is a blessing, but has also made it difficult to understand why your brothers put so much value in some of the things they do.
Tony, welcome to the United States, and most importantly, welcome to the family of God. I heard of your recent testimony and coming to know Christ as your Savior. We’re glad to have you and your beautiful family here from Italy, and we look forward to growing together in the Lord. You’re Catholic background is going to be a hurdle to overcome, and the traditions and doctrines they teach will not fall away overnight. I pray you will continue to remain open to your brethren, and to Christ in your growth as a brother.
You men have many differences. You all come from different backgrounds, families, traditions and languages.
George, accept Wallace and Tony as brothers who are weak in the faith, this is all new to them. Don’t quarrel with them about disputable matters. Your faith may allow you to eat anything, but Wallace was raised a vegetarian and it will take time for him to adjust – if he so desires – to eating meat. George and Tony – you should not treat Wallace with contempt or disapproval because he’s a vegetarian, but Wallace shouldn’t disapprove of your eating meat either. You are all saved sinners, and you are all accepted in Christ, He is your master.
George, please understand that Tony and Wallace were raised much differently that you. The Thanksgiving holiday is very important to them. You don’t have to partake in it with them if you do not wish, follow in your convictions but do not condemn them for observing this holiday. Tony and Wallace – if you feel at liberty to continue celebrating Thanksgiving, do it for the Lord, and use it as an opportunity (as you mentioned already) to share the love of Christ to your families who do not profess to know Him.
George and Tony if you eat meat, thank the Lord for it! Wallace, if you eat a veggie burger, thank the Lord for it! You each will answer to God individually, not for each other. He knows your life, from beginning to end, and as you have all proclaimed – He is your Lord and Father – you belong to the Lord. He came and died on a cross and took on the sins of all mankind. He is your master, and should be, in everything you do. Don’t dispute over these petty issues between yourselves.
So why then do you judge your brother in Christ with contempt and disapproval? We all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Isaiah 45:23 says “I have sworn by myself; the word has gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.”. We all will give an account for ourselves – not for others – to God. Your criticism of your brothers will not mean anything to you then.
Dear brothers – because of this, stop passing on your judgments on each other. Instead, make a commitment to one another to not be a stumbling block, don’t make life more difficult for each other. I am convinced that everything is from God, but we sinners are what contaminate it.
If you make an issue or confuse each other over what a man eats or drinks or what traditions he observes, that is not acting in love. Remember, Christ died for all, for your brothers, sisters – all have sinned. Don’t destroy them by your judgmental and disapproving attitude and by eating something that is offensive to them! Remember, God blessed the food you are eating, don’t let that blessed food become a cause for confusion.
The kingdom of God isn’t about what you eat or drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in The Holy Spirit. Serve Christ in this way and it will be both pleasing to Him and the people around you.
So do whatever you can to promote peace and mutual edification. Don’t drag yourselves down by trying to find fault, or being judgmental. This is going to take work and commitment from each of you, on all sides of the issue.
When you come together don’t eat, drink or do things that will distract or interfere or cause your brother to stumble… these times are meant to encourage one another – not tear each other down! So whatever you believe about these things keep it between yourself and God. Your personal relationship with God is your own responsibility – not the responsibility of others.
You will also be blessed if you do not condemn yourself by what you allow. But if you doubt you are condemned – it is not from God, and everything that does not come from God is sin.
So, those of you who are strong, and can resist being offended by these petty things should bear with them who are weaker. I hope you’re not doing it to please yourself, but to please and to edify your brother. Follow Christ’s example… he knew the law perfectly, he followed it perfectly, but He did not do what please Him. The scripture says, “The criticism of those who criticized you fell on Me.” I know that was written hundreds and thousands of years ago, but these things were written for our learning. You can patiently learn and find comfort in the Scriptures – they will give you hope.
Men, Christ Jesus is a God of patience and comfort and He has given us what we need to be like-minded towards each other. Imagine how you and your families could with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
May the God of Peace be with you,