Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Freedoms and "Rights"

"But beware lest somehow this liberty of your become a stumbling block to those who are weak." 
1 Corinthians 8:9

     Paul here is addressing a common issue in the culture of the day. Certain foods were used as an offering to idols. Certainly the food itself was not evil but what it was used for had a chance for stumbling. He addresses the freedom the believer has to eat as he pleases, but that if it gives way to stumble another---true Christian character would gladly lay down a "right" out of a deeper love for a brother or sister in Christ. I think of examples in my life of godly people who have chosen to live above reproach. You will not find them at the neighborhood community dwelling having innocent fun because of the evil that likewise takes place in the same walls. You will never find them alone with someone of the other gender to be found above reproach. You will not find them purchase any juice in a bottle that could be mistaken for alcohol. Does this seem over the top? Perhaps to some,  but I see it as wisdom of love. Knowledge is understanding that some things can yield way to stumbling and knowing what is right and wrong, but wisdom is discerning how to apply that knowledge in love. Wisdom of love is choosing to lay down something for the sake of another, to ensure that it does not stumble them in any way. Knowledge looks at the rules and determines what one can and cannot do, but wisdom looks from all views of how it may be perceived or misinterpreted and chooses to draw a straight and narrow boundary line for the sake of another and the protection of a godly reputation. This is the principle Paul was trying to express to the Corinthian church. Haveing a knowledge and understanding of the times and what was or was not permitted for a believer, he challenges the hearts of the believers to exercise wisdom of love, and choose to refrain from anything that could stumble one who is weaker in the faith and liberty of Jesus Christ. He goes as far as to warn that if one who is stronger in the faith stumbles the conscience of a weaker brother, he has sinned against Christ. Paul was willing to change daily habits, such as the food he chose to eat, for the sake of others growing in their faith. What am I willing to lay down for the sake of another growing closer to God. Perhaps it's a tv show, a type of music, a social media thing, a habit? Today I will ask the Lord to reveal to me anything that I allow in my life, through the freedom of Christ, that may be required of me to exercise wisdom of love and lay down for the sake of another. I will also pray that the Lord would give me a sensitive and willing heart to quickly lay down anything that could be a struggle for one weaker in the faith, regardless of my rights and freedoms in it.

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