Friday, 27 December 2013
Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; Romans 14:16
With the use of the word “therefore” we are asked to refer to what was just said in order to grab Paul’s intended meaning. The previous two verses stated, “I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.”
Because “nothing is unclean of itself” we may feel that we have liberty to partake of anything at any time without harm. This is not the case. It would be entirely inappropriate to invite a known Christian vegetarian over to your house and then serve only dishes with meat. In fact, knowingly doing this would be evil. And the good you intended by the invitation for dining will only be “spoken of as evil.”
Likewise, if you were to start attending a congregation which consisted of Messianic Jews (Jewish folks who have accepted Christ as Lord) and were to bring a ham sandwich along for a snack, you would more than probably cause a large amount of offense; not because there is anything inherently wrong with a ham sandwich, but because these believers have spent their lives refraining from such food and will probably continue to do so even if they know they now have the freedom to do otherwise.
Having said that, it should be noted that in modern society someone will always find offense at something another does. There must be a point where the offended party has to simply grow up and stop being offended all the time. But tact and diplomacy over these matters comes down to love. And this is true from either angle, by the one exercising their freedom and by the one who is easily offended. In the end, the consideration of the situation from the angle of love will be pleasing to the Lord.
Life application: Use sound judgment towards others. If atheists are offended by a nativity scene, that is their problem, not yours. However, if a fellow believer is offended by your freedom in your style of worship while you are attending their church, then maybe you need to adjust to accommodate them. Make your considerations in such matters with Jesus as the example and love as the guide.
Wonderful, beautiful Savior. Thank You for the perfect life You gave on that rugged cross in payment of my sin debt. I know that eternity itself will never bring me to the end of the debt of praise and adoration I owe to You for the majesty of Your grace and mercy. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Please delight in my love and worship. Glory to You in the highest. Amen.