Today’s Passage – Romans 14 – 16
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:21)
There is a lot of talk these days about liberty. As New Testament Christians we have been made free from the bondage of the law, but that does not give us license to sin; and it does not give us the right to use our liberty to cause a weaker brother in Christ to stumble and fall. We no longer have an exhaustive list of do’s and dont’s to live by (or not live by). We live by faith, but the Bible tells us that whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
In our fundamental churches across America, many things are preached against. Each church is different. Some churches are a little more separated than others are. Some have long lists of leadership (and even membership) requirements; but even these churches could not possibly completely specify what is right for every given situation. However, as believers, we have the indwelling Spirit of God, which will guide us into all truth, and help us decide what is right and what is wrong. We must remember, though, that we must take into account that what we do affects other people. Let me give you an example that I have heard many times: Let’s say that I feel that a glass of wine every now and then is acceptable (by the way, I don’t), and God would not prohibit me from drinking in moderation. I may have the liberty to do that; I mean I’m saved eternally, aren’t I? and that glass of wine may not be a problem for me. However, what I must take into consideration that by drinking the wine, I may be influencing a younger brother in Christ the wrong way. He may not be able to handle it, it may cause him to fall away from God, and do injury to himself and others. The bottom line is that there are things that I may have the liberty to do, which may cause my brother to stumble and fall. I therefore have to understand that I have a responsibility before God to be a proper example and influence to my children, and to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The wine example is just one of many I can think of. This principle can be applied to many areas: television, music, movies, occupations; the list goes on and on. You and I must follow the principles of the Word of God, and the leadership of the Spirit of God in every decision, so that the liberties we take do not adversely affect anyone else. No man is an island: we don’t live to ourselves; our lives are intertwined together; and we are our brother’s keeper. I am not trying to turn us into a bunch of Pharisees who spend their time micro-examining everybody else’s lives, I am merely advocating that we assume some responsibility regarding our influence on others. And the higher we are in leadership, the greater the influence we have, and the greater the responsibility we must accept.
Posted in Devotions, Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.