1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” NKJV
The matter of personal liberty has always been and will always be an issue in the Church and the conscience of a weaker brother or sister. How far do we press our liberty before we become a stumbling block for a “weaker brother”? Is there a time to say, “Grow up and realize that different people have different convictions”? Is exercising our liberty worth causing another to stumble? How you answer those questions will determine how you relate to those around you.
There was a time in my Christian walk that I felt that everyone should hold the same convictions that I did and if they did not they were “carnal” at best and “backslidden” at worst. Most of the time I considered that one and the same and was a Pharisee of Pharisees! It took God rattling my cage in a major way to cause me to rethink my way of thinking and to understand that I am not God’s Fruit Inspector He can handle that job just fine. Likewise, I had to learn, although in my heart I knew it that most of what I called “convictions” were simply “opinions” and did not have the weight of Scripture. An opinion is just that and is something that may and should change if new light is brought. If God “convicts” your heart over an action, belief, or anything you should follow what God says implicitly and explicitly. Yet you must always remember that what God “convicts” you of He may not convict another. Many times the roots of that conviction stem from something within you or the geographic region in which you live and the mindset of those around you. God will bring conviction to your heart for your benefit not so you can attempt to impose it on everyone else that would be what a Pharisee does.
There have been times that I could have done something but knew that there were those around me who would be hindered in their Christian walk if they saw me. So, in the interest of another, I choose to abstain. In traveling to other parts of the country and world I have found that there are many differing views on various things that Christians do or do not do and sometimes the dogmatism is so strong that no amount of reason or biblical teaching can break it. Unless God brings light to the heart, that person or persons will remain as they are. Attempting to legislate to them a particular mind-set or lifestyle would be futile and brings to mind the old saying: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” They may yield to your insistence but their hearts and minds have not truly changed. You are not God so why try to be?
As you go through your day realize that what you do and say will have an impact on others so choose your words and deeds carefully considering another for your liberty is not worth hindering another in their pursuit of GOD and His GRACE!
May God be with you as you go through your day!