Most decisions we make will be small ones, but I'm convinced that many of them are sowing the seeds of undesirable destinies. How can we make good decisions, so that we're living lives of order, balance, and peace? Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing with you the basics of making sound biblical decisions.
Will this decision cause my Christian brother or sister to stumble in their faith?
This second area of decision-making can be a little confusing, as it involves to an extent what other people think. I know we're conditioned not to worry about what other people think, but I believe we've become a culture of entitlement, insisting on our own rights over the rights of others. I also happen to believe that God wants us to care for the spiritual well-being of others, though, and that includes not being an offense to them in any area of Christian liberty, if we can prevent it. Paul said in I Corinthians 10:33, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."And in Romans, he says, "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence." (Romans 14:15, 20)
I'm not advocating that you check with every Christian friend and family member before you make a decision to do something, out of fear that you might offend them. However, I do believe there's a biblical principle for areas where you generally know that someone might be offended if you do a certain thing. The use of alcoholic drinks comes to mind. The Bible doesn't say anywhere that we are absolutely forbidden to drink alcohol, but there are many passages of Scripture that indicate it isn't wise. My circle of friends and family members who are saved (as far as I know) believe it is wrong to drink alcohol, and would be horribly offended if I were to have a glass of wine with my dinner. Another believer, who is new to the idea that drinking alcohol is not wise, might see me drinking that glass of wine and feel justified in doing so himself, even if he had a tendency to drink too much and/or the Lord might be dealing with him about it. So, if I were trying to decide whether or not to drink wine with my dinner, I would need to not only take into consideration principle #1 of searching the Scriptures about this issue, but I would also need to consider how my having that glass of wine might harm my brothers and sisters in Christ.
In our North American culture, this is not a popular principle. People feel that they have the right to do what they want to do, no matter what anyone else thinks about it. They feel that if someone else has a problem with what they're doing, it's the other person's problem, not theirs. The Lord says differently, though. Consider these verses:
I Corinthians 8:1 - "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." Whatever we may be doing, we may have the knowledge that it's fine, but love for others will keep us from offending them.
Romans 14:19 - "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." We should be looking out for others to edify them, not to tear them down with our right to do what we want to.
Romans 14:1,2 - "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification." Not to please ourselves, but others!
Romans 15:3 - "For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." Even Jesus refrained from doing what pleased Himself! He was sent to be a servant, and He fulfilled that role with humility and meekness. We would be wise to have that same sense of humility in dealing with others.
I Corinthians 8:9 - "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." Be careful that you are not using your liberty as an excuse to do whatever you want at the expense of others!
I'm not here to tell you what to do in every area of your life; that's the Holy Spirit's job! I would encourage you, though, before you make a decision to do something questionable, to consider others and what the results of using your liberty will be to those around you. If it would cause an offense to your brothers or sisters in Christ, prayerfully consider them as you make your decision.
If you've missed the other parts of this series, you can find them in my introductory post.
Humility by Andrew Murray
The Pursuit of God (The Definitive Classic) by A.W. Tozer
Ten Principles for Biblical Living: Foundational Truths that Have Guided My Life and Ministry by Don Sisk
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