June 28 – Today’s Readings – Romans 13-14 and Proverbs 28
Romans 14 contains a train of thought that is important for us in the 21st. Century. It has to do with not “offending” brothers and sisters in the Lord by our indiscrete behavior. It also involves not judging our brothers and sisters.
First of all, let’s talk about not offending one another. There are many behaviors that we could participate in as Christians, which have the potential of offending fellow “saints” in Christ. A brother could easily be offended if he saw you or I entering a bar for example – his past experiences with the “bar lifestyle” might have had everything to do with the destruction of his marriage, family and career. Perhaps my only past experience with alcohol had to do with a glass of beer at dinner with my family. Is it “wrong” to have a beer with your parents at dinner? Perhaps not – for you, it may simply part of wholesome fellowship. Is it “wrong” if you offend your brother in Christ while participating in this activity? Yes – because you have used your “Christian liberty” in a way that has caused another man to stumble. I use the example of “the bar”, not because it is the biggest or most pressing issue facing us in this discussion but because it is an easy one. Consider this however – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel – not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” (Proverbs 31:4-7)
With regards to not “judging” your brother in Christ – we see here the flip side of not offending your brother. If you know that a friend of yours is in the habit of having a glass of wine with his wife on special occasions, you should be mature enough in Christ to not judge him for his choice of behavior. You will notice that I have deliberately chosen a “grey area” like having a glass of wine – I have not chosen an obvious, blatant sin like drinking too much and thereby losing proper judgment.
Here’s a question for you however – If the Holy Spirit communicates with us through our minds, and we dull our minds with a prescription drug, alcohol, or some street drug, will this impair our ability to hear the voice of the Spirit? You see, some of these things are obviously wrong and when the Bible calls something a sin, we should too. Failing to do so is the equivalent of not looking out for our brothers’ interests. No, judging one another for “petty” things is wrong but judging ourselves for issues that lead to death or for things that distance us from God is a responsible, Christian thing to do.
1. Give other examples of issues that could be “ok” for one person but might “offend” another.
2. Give an example of a time when the Holy Spirit instructed you to do or not to do something because of not “offending” a fellow Christian.