Saturday, January 3, 2009

How To Know What Is Right

How do you know what is 'right'? The first answer that comes to the minds of most believers is, "You look to Scripture. If it is forbidden, then it is wrong. If not, then it is fine." That simple answer is sufficient much of the time, but not always.

What about doing something that is not forbidden in Scripture but really irks the conscience of another believer? Should we be sensitive to the views and sensitivities of other believers even when those views are not expressly supported in Scripture? Should I be sensitive to how others around me were raised and taught through the years?

There is not always a clear, black and white line when it comes to these kinds of issues. The wisest course of action is usually to be humble, and sensitive and ever-mindful of Philippians 2:3 (Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself).

In my quiet time today I read something that got me to thinking about this...

Acts 15:19-20 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

These are the words of James as he comments on what instructions should be given to the new gentile Christians. Does something seem strange about these instructions? Why were they told to abstain from things polluted by idols, from things strangled, and from blood? Is it a sin to partake of those things?

No, it is not a sin to partake of those things (and other Scripture passages confirm this). These instructions were given as a compromise. The Jewish believers wanted the gentiles to understand that they were saved by grace through faith, not by keeping the Jewish law. But they also wanted the Gentile believers to be sensitive to the way most Jewish believers lived (their lifestyle) and the way they were raised (their background).

There are a couple lessons here that I need to be reminded of often...

First, I need to be sensitive to the fact that some believers were raised with certain traditions and mores that I was not. I should be careful to not offend their sensitivities unnecessarily. I need to remember that it is not all about my rights; it is all about love.

Second, I need to remember that I was raised with certain traditions and I live a certain lifestyle that works for me. I shouldn't expect everyone to conform to my lifestyle and traditions. The model is not me, it is Scripture.


Pray for me, I've got a funeral today. Difficult situation.

I'm looking forward to worship tomorrow. If you want to read ahead, read and study through Psalm 1.

Pastor Noel