Seeking Unity Through Love

Study Guide

In this passage, Paul calls for unity in the church despite differing nonessential opinions. For the weak in faith, those still trusting in religious systems, Paul encourages them to not impose their convictions on others. For the strong, those who feel freedom in Christ, he encourages them to accept, not correct, the weak and to be willing to sacrifice their freedoms to avoid causing spiritual harm to another. United by our desire to honor Christ, we can live in harmony with each other by setting aside judgment and laying down our rights for the benefit of others.
  1. When have you felt judgment from another believer on an issue where you felt freedom? How might that experience help you in moments when you’re tempted to judge another believer for their conviction or lack of conviction?

  2. Choose an issue important to you and identify whether you lean toward minimizing or maximizing its spiritual significance, as well as your feelings toward someone on the opposite side. What do your answers reveal about where your allegiance falls? Is it to your personal conviction or to Christ?

  3. While we have freedom in Christ, flaunting that freedom can cause others spiritual harm and even to act against their conscience. Can you think of a situation where this has happened in your life? Are there specific ways you need to set aside your freedom in order to honor another believer or for the sake of unity?

Key Points
  • Unity in Christ is more important than individual rightness, because what unites us, honoring God, is far greater.

  • As believers, we are united by core doctrines, but outside of these, we can have different opinions as long as we don’t make them essential.

  • There will be a day when we stand before an impartial God. His judgment should motivate us to stop judging others. We don’t have to defend ourselves because God has the final say.

  • Strong convictions in nonessential issues can be mistaken for spiritual maturity.

  • If we are strong in our freedom in Christ, we must live in a way that doesn’t cause others to stumble. If our actions are causing spiritual harm to another, we must modify our expression of freedom by the demands of love.

  • Our church leadership is tasked with helping us think through nonessential issues. As they guide us, we should develop a posture of patience and humility and be distinct from the culture by not insisting on our rights.

Scripture: Romans 14:1–15:13