“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4 (NASB)
Why do Christians find it so easy to criticize other Christians? Perhaps because Jesus so greatly desires unity in the Church. It is not easy to build unity if everyone has cause to be on the defensive against carping criticism from everyone else. It is not easy to build unity if everyone is attuned to pointing out everyone else’s weaknesses and failures.
From time to time I like to go back through old, worn-out Bibles that I no longer carry. In one that used to be my primary study Bible, I underlined the first part of that verse, but as I read the chapter over again, “and stand he will” captured my attention. The matter has already been decided without any input from me at all.
The part I first underlined asks, who am I to get upset with, say, a store clerk who is taking too much time on things that seem unnecessary to me and keeping me from hurrying on my way? After all, he or she does not work for me, but for the manager of the store.
It asks, who am I to question why a member of my church hasn’t gotten over some habit or attitude I disapprove of? But then, that’s not really the same case. After all, that looking askance at that person makes me wonder whether he or she is serving God at all. Well, who asked me to determine that? Whether I’ve succeeded in living up to it or not, I have known and understood that concept for years.
The part that stood out in my most recent encounter with that verse builds on the same point. It is the boss’s responsibility and privilege, not mine, to measure whether a member of his or her staff does a good job or not. It is God’s responsibility and privilege to measure whether one of his servants stands or falls. And he has already decided and announced that his servants, one and all, will stand.
That part of the verse also means I have no business criticizing myself or wondering if I have messed up so thoroughly that I’ll fail in God’s sight. He has already determine–and revealed for all to read and believe–that he is able to make me stand, and that he will.