Friday, March 25, 2016

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Opinions

This week I read a blog post with a disturbing title: Why You Shouldn't Read the Bible in a Year. The author gave several reasons why he thought it was a bad idea to rush through the Bible in a year just because it's on your Bucket List. 

The post made me pause, because a friend and I have been reading The One Year Bible (NIV) this year. For a second, I thought about scrapping my daily readings. Maybe he was right, I reasoned. Sometimes my eyes glaze over when I'm reading about how many men are in each of the tribes of Israel or how to deal with various skin diseases. Maybe I should be spending my time on the parts that are more applicable to my life now.

It didn't take me long to come to my senses again. It is a good thing to read through the Bible in a year! That blog post was someone's opinion and I don't have to change my reading habits just because he feels like he can't, or shouldn't, read the Bible in a year.

I have read the Bible all the way through many times. Sometimes I've done it in a year, sometimes I've gone more slowly. In my humble opinion, I think every Christian needs to read the entire Bible at some point. It contains God's words to us. Sure, some parts are confusing (and some parts are a little boring, I know) but there's something special about knowing you've read every word of the book that teaches, challenges, and encourages us in our faith.

It's been quite a few years since I read the Bible all the way through, that's why I decided to do it again this year. I can't help how the blog writer feels about my goal. Maybe he's super busy, or maybe he's lazy, or maybe...I don't know. I can't judge him. I can only decide what I'm going to do this year. I have enough time. I haven't done it for a while. I'm going to read it. I'm also studying some parts so that I get even more out of it. 

As far as other opinions go, I'm sure all of you have noticed strong opinions in the world around you. Politicians, news people, friends, relatives, enemies, strangers...everyone has their own opinion about everything.

How do we live among others who don't have the same opinions we do? Very carefully. We stand firm on the things that matter and we show grace in the areas that don't. This is especially difficult because there are so many different opinions about what matters and what doesn't. 

The whole chapter of Romans 14 deals with different opinions and the importance of not judging others. Of course, we must agree on the essentials of the faith (and what a perfect day - this Good Friday - to remember that one of those essentials is the belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all of our sins and make us righteous before God!) but on matters that are not essential, there is room for many different opinions. 

I can feel strongly about something and not apologize for it, but I also need to be kind and tactful if I choose to share that opinion with others. I don't have to bully or ridicule someone when their opinion doesn't match mine - even in the essentials.

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters....So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14:1, 22-23 NIV)

Do you have strong opinions or are you easily swayed by what others think? How can focusing on God help you to stand firm in your opinions and yet show love to those who don't agree with you?

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