“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does
not become a stumbling block to the weak.”
(I Corinthians 8:9)
Food For Thought… Since I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works, I am free from the demands of the law. There is no longer a long list of do’s and don’t’s that I must observe in order to be right with God. I am right with God because I stand before him robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So, to paraphrase St. Augustine, I can just love God, and do what I want.
Except that I no longer live for myself. I am living for God, I am living with my brothers and sisters in the family of God, and I am living as a kingdom agent in an unsaved world. So what I do has consequences. My behavior affects God’s reputation on Planet Earth. My behavior, in some cases, may offend a weaker brother or sister, or perhaps even lead them into sin. My behavior may cause an unbeliever to conclude that there is no difference between a Christian and himself.
I may have divine permission under grace to do certain things, but those things may not be beneficial to me. Paul says it this way a couple of chapters later:
“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (I Corinthians 10:23-24)
The highest use of my spiritual freedom and the best use of God’s grace is to do things that build up my fellows believers in God’s family and attract the lost to Jesus Christ. That is what most glorifies God. That is when grace is most attractive. That is where spiritual freedom is most powerful.
That is why, even though I don’t have to, I may refrain from taking in certain chemicals into my body, or partaking in certain forms of entertainment, or dressing in certain ways, or using certain kinds of colorful language. I can do those things if I choose, but they may very well become a stumbling block to someone else’s path to God..
And I don’t want to be a stumbling block. I want to be a building block.
Prayer… Lord, help me to ruthlessly govern my freedom so that it can be leveraged for your highest glory.
One More Thing… “The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy.” —Martin Luther