By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from Romans 14:1-12
1 Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. 2 Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. 3 Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. 5 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. 6 Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then, each of us will be accountable to God.
A generation back, my family discovered the Myers-Briggs personality types. There was a book about it lying around the house, which I eventually discovered and devoured. Who doesn’t love a quiz that will tell you about yourself, right? But the biggest value, I think, of the whole concept of personality types is not learning about yourself so much as learning that other people are different — different in surprisingly basic ways. I happen to be an introvert from a family of introverts who intentionally married someone else with my same personality type. My very extroverted daughter is a mystery to me — I can’t imagine the loss I would be at if I didn’t know about the difference between the temperaments.
I imagine that if I could go back in time with that book and give it to St. Paul when he wrote today’s lesson, he’d be really excited. Because the problem with trying to talk about not judging others is that it’s hard to separate the things about which he tells us not to judge from the clear moral guidelines he and others in the New Testament give us. But if you can turn on the light that other people are basically different in certain ways, then you can understand that other people will express themselves differently and assign different degrees of importance to things. It’s much easier not to judge others if you can understand they’re wired differently.
The rule here comes courtesy of Vincent van Gogh: “What is done in love is done well,” and we can appreciate it, even if it’s not what we would do ourselves.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Bujumbura (Anglican Church of Burundi)
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, McKinney, Texas