Unity Without Uniformity (2)
In working for unity:
1) Consider your motives.
Only God knows the motives of a person’s heart, and only God is qualified to judge them. ‘No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:11 NLT).
We’re externally-oriented creatures; we ‘judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT).
It’s not necessarily what people do that causes us to judge them; it’s what we tell ourselves about what they’re doing.
We’re quick to attribute negative motives: ‘He meant to hurt me. She’s selfish. They never consider others.’
The church in Rome was sabotaging its own unity over outward issues, so Paul reminded them that even though their behavior was at odds, their motives were similar. ‘He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God’ (Romans 14:6 NIV).
Unity doesn’t depend on outward conformity, but understanding hearts!
2) Consider your impact on others.
We say, ‘It’s nobody’s business but mine, as long as I don’t violate Scripture.’
You can follow the letter of the Word but violate its Spirit.
Paul said, ‘Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial’ (1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV).
Yes, you can do it, but somebody else may end up being hurt.
God has a higher law than that of ‘my rights’; it’s the law of love! He cares ‘when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a Christian…to be thrown off track’ (1 Corinthians 8:9 TM).
What should you do?
‘Do nothing from selfishness…regard one another as more important than yourselves’ (Philippians 2:3 NAS).
‘Have fervent love for one another.’ 1 Peter 4:8 NKJV