Tag Archives: Language

dealing with “weaker brothers”

first off: i like the ESV.

bad NIV translation has spawned the phrase “weaker brother”, which implies that the person must be somehow “under” you, by the -er suffix.

the phrase, though, is simply “one who is weak in faith” — regardless of how they’re faith “stacks up” to yours.

anyway, on with the scripture:

Romans 14:1-3

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.

if someone, weak in the faith or not, is hounding you on an issue that the bible is vague (or silent) on: they are not living a life of love.

perhaps this person is weak in faith, but the instructions from paul are to be a two-way street: it is clear that we are simply to avoid judging one another on matters of opinion.

it is possible that they are otherwise quite strong in their faith, but simply have a hang-up in this one area… ?

either way, i think romans is fairly clear that you are to, as a matter of love, avoid “flaunting” your freedom.

this does not mean, in my opinion, that you are to avoid the activity in question altogether, but simply to do what seems best to avoid inflaming the issue with this person.

always in love, though, it is also clear that you are to “not allow what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”

this may be where that terrible phrase, “agree to disagree” actually applies.

if it truly is a matter of opinion, then it is likely not a crucial matter, and you can likely serve the lord by dropping it humbly if the person is tryingto pick a fight.

if, however, they really are in need of restoration, keep this in mind:

Galations 6:1-3

Bear One Another’s Burdens

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

i believe this warning to be sure you are not tempted to sin is aimed at thinking you are “better” than them, and will give them a “piece of your mind”, or whatnaught.

notice, too that the idea is to restore — NOT to correct, or punish, or condemn or judge.

restore, and gently.

if there’s any chance you will be unlikely to restore this person in total gentleness and love, it’s probably best left to a matter of prayer — let god sort them out. (he’s better at it anyway)

on “course joking”

where’s the line?

what defines “course joking” ?

is it simply using a (gasp!) curse-word?

is it lewdness?

is it always only in the ear of the beholder?

are there simply some things a christian should never say, under any circumstances?

(and if so, can you tell us without sinning???)

is what you ought not to joke about, or say, variable depending on whom you’re with? (and, yes, we know you’re always with god, that’s a given)

are there “levels” of course joking, with some stuff being okay for sally, but for jenny that would be a sin?

another point often brought up — by the more conservative among us, usually — is something along these lines:

“…but, if christians are not even supposed to give even the slightest impression of sinning…”

to which i resopnd: but jesus was accused of being a drunkard — surely those who did so got the impression he was a sinner?

also, this brings up a related point:

there is a verse that the KJV is very widely quoted, even by people who use the NIV or other translations normally:

1 Thess 5:22 (KJV) — “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

this verse is often misused to say that everything a christian does should never be able to be confused with something evil, by anyone.

but, as with a lot of things, the king james 600 year old verbiage is getting in the way of what god was really saying:

most other translations say something more like:

ESV: Abstain from every form of evil.

anyway, back to course joking: when is what you say simply wrong?

the idea of what’s “obscene” has changed a BUNCH in the past 30 years.

(anyone in here seen the movie grease lately? — its filthy! filled with offensive language — that was perfectly acceptable in its day. and i bet that if the producers of that film saw what we put on tv during primetime, they’d flip thier lids, with the ammount of skin we show)

i don’t believe simply “offending someone” can be the gauge, as i have heard some contend.

this is because of what i read in John 6

The Words of Eternal Life

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life…”

perhaps that’s a different “meaning” of the word offend than is often meant — but, there it is: clearly simply “if it offends, it’s wrong” won’t do as a test of what is or is not coarse joking.

in any case, our words can offend without being coarse joking — and coarse joking can be coarse joking, i think, w/o offending anyone in the room.

i think this just goes to point out, as i sit here and think about it, how wise jesus’ teachings are.

he really didn’t come with laws, as it’d be so easy to simply follow a list of laws and think we’re OK in god’s eyes (read: pharisees).

instead, he came with advice on real heart-change. changes in heart that result in sensitivity to the spirit, the fruit of which ends up being that things such as coarse joking naturally disappear from our behavior.

(or something along those lines)

i think that does NOT end the question, however:

since it was implied in my question that jesus does, in fact, hear everything anyway.

if we didn’t think god hears all we do, the question would be rather moot, even.

so, as it is, the question of “would you say it in front of jesus” is really just re-phrasing the question, in a way.

additionally, we get into the same problem of “…something jesus wouldn’t want to hear…” that we do with “what others don’t want to hear”.

who “decides” what jesus wants to hear and not hear from us?

that, really, was the point of my asking.

where do we end up drawing the line?

how do we end up drawing said line?

i submit that the lines we draw have little to do with jesus, the scripture, or leadings from the spirit so much as they have to do with the culture we’re brought up and live in.

ought “god” be capitalized?

position: god doesn’t care a whit about about the grammar rules of whichever particular language you write in.

respect is shown by expressing a kingdom heart in a way that uplifts, rather than tears down.

by truly caring more for your neighbor’s best interests than your own.

this does not mean submitting to the prideful, destructive or downright meaningless traditions of your neighbor — to do so is NOT in their best interest, and only allows them to continue in their mistaken notion of what living in the eternal kingdom is about.

insisting that “god” or “jesus” must be capitalized strikes me as similar to stuff the pharisees pulled.

making a “rule” out of a custom, until it became a “law” — and somehow wormed its way into being enforceable by social pressure to the point that few dare question it.

i mean, seriously, we are talking about grammar here.

i think any reasonable person must conclude that god does not care, at all, whether we press the shift-key when typing the first letter of a pronoun referring to him.

what he cares about is how we live.

how we take care of widows and orphans. how we disciple those who look to us for wisdom.

how our very lives and the way we love on those around us reflect the character of jesus christ so much that they are drawn to him.

now, we humans like rules.

we pretend not to, but we love them.

we are constantly taking what jesus said, and making rules out of them.

we like to see if we have divorced, or looked at a naked chick, or said, “raca!”, and if not, hey! we’re doing okay!

but jesus never meant for any of those things to be “rules for getting into heaven” but rather illustrations of how, in some situations, a kingdom heart is likely to react, sometimes.

there are situations where the trouble of not capitalizing is not worth the rucus it’d cause (like at many of our grandparents’ churches), and times when it is (like here).

all of life is this way.

listening to the spirit, and having a heart that is more interested in the needs of your neighbor than your own selfish wants, we are able to discern how to navigate in this kingdom of god that we live in, and the situations can allow for all kinds of things.

apparently, according to ecclesiastes, there’s even a time to kill, though i plan to error on the side of caution on that one (!)

this capitalization thing is a rule that has been made, as a way to “see if we are OK or not”.

it’s a silly thing, and it has nothing to do with the kingdom, and yet we all know how people are.

people are funny about this stuff!

again, it all boils down to love for god, and love for people.

the greatest of these

the boys and the girls
don’t speak the same language
they talk to each other
but they never hear

the girl will say one thing
the boy will hear other
the boy will say some thing
it will miss the girl’s ear

the girls and the boys
don’t share a vocab
they both know they’re right
and each other’s wrong

the boy says the wrong word
to convey the right feeling
the girl hears the right word
but the meaning is gone

the boys and the girls
both know something is missing
so they keep trying harder
to make themselves known

but the girls and the boys
will continue to blow it
as love can’t spoken
it has to be shown