Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you.
Philippians 3:15, NLT*
Perhaps only the Apostle Paul would have the confidence in the soundness of his teaching to be able to say this. Specifically, he’s been talking about counting everything else as worthless compared to gaining Christ, how he hasn’t “arrived” yet but how we all need to press on to grow closer to Jesus. [Read Philippians 3]
It’s the general application of this verse that interests me today, though. There is a spiritually mature view, and those who haven’t reached that level of growth won’t necessarily agree with it.
There are plenty of areas where there’s no “right” answer and Christians can safely hold their own opinions. Some of these areas are a bit dicey and we’re well advised to consider our words and actions so we don’t cause a more vulnerable believer to fall into sin. [Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-12]
There are doctrinal differences among the denominations that God will somehow work out in the end. And there are core truths of the faith which are non-negotiable for those who want to follow Jesus in spirit and in truth.
Paul used his position of authority to call out sin and call for church discipline. But when it came to teaching, he gave the truth and stopped at that. He prayed for believers to grow in understanding [Read Colossians 1:9-14], but he didn’t bully or badger or fret to get people’s agreement.
God has been so patient in bringing me to understand elements of His truth and to learn to live them. I’m sure it’s the same with you. And we still have much to learn—about God and about life in general.
Just as we’re on the journey, so are our brothers and sisters in Christ. So are our family and friends. Paul’s example here is freeing. We can pray, speak when appropriate, and remember that God is even more invested in revealing His truth to each heart.
God who is Truth, in whom is no shadow of lie or deceit, thank You for drawing us to know You and Your ways. Because You know each person so intimately, You know the best way and timing to make Your truth plain to us. Make us receptive so we can learn quickly, and grant us patience with one another in the process. Help us trust You to be about Your work. Nudge us when You have a word or deed for us to contribute, and nudge us even more when we’re to keep our hands and voices out of the way.
Our song this week is an older one from Carolyn Arends: I Can Hear You. Praise God that His voice does break through all the noise in our lives.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Thank you, Janet, for your very insightful words and for reminding us that we are all on a journey with God, regardless of our individual differences in beliefs.
This one has been speaking very loudly to me personally, Ruth Ann, and I hope I’m listening. We’re so quick to want to “fix” others, and even if we’re right in what we see, we can’t impose it from outside. God has to change each one from the inside. (And of course, sometimes what we’re sure we’re right about isn’t so…)
I do want to be open and receptive to Truth too, Janet. We may need all of eternity to receive the whole of it 🙂
Amen! There’s so much to learn and to grow into.