PASTOR’S CORNER: Pat Mann, President, Good Samaritan Auxiliary, Liberal
You may think of other instances in the Bible where people made great resolves. Perhaps Ruth’s resolve to Naomi. Daniel’s resolve regarding food. Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego’s resolve, “We will not bow down to your idol.” Today, we will consider a resolve made by the Apostle, Paul.
What would you be willing to give up in order to build up those who are new to the faith—Christians who have not come to spiritual maturity? Read what Paul was willing to give up for the sake of the immature believer:
Notes from 1 Corinthians 8:
Those who were new believers who turned from the worship of idols to serve the living God, had a strong belief as new Christians that it would be sinful to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul knew that the meat was just meat and that idols are not really gods – nothing sinful about eating that meat, but because many immature Christians still had the belief that it would be a serious sin to eat such meat, Paul determined he would not eat that meat because it could stifle the spiritual growth of such people.
Paul’s resolve: “So if eating meat offered to idols is going to make my brother sin, I will not eat any of it as long as I live because I don’t want to do this to him.”
To the spiritually mature believers, Paul says, “Just remember that God doesn’t care whether we eat it or not. We are no worse off if we don’t eat it, and no better off if we do. But be careful not to use your freedom to eat it, lest you cause some Christian brother to sin whose conscience is weaker than yours.”
Paul’s concern is for the new, immature believer.
If a person blatantly does something that a new believer believes is wrong, and causes damage to the growth of a new believer, this is what Paul said: “It could cause damage to a brother with a tender conscience for whom Christ died. And it is a sin against Christ to sin against your brother by encouraging him to do something he thinks is wrong. But be careful not to use your freedom to eat it, lest you cause some Christian brother to sin whose conscience is weaker than yours.” (Living Bible).
In modern times, this principle could apply to other things. When I was a grade-schooler, I lived in a community in which some people believed it was wrong to play games with a deck of cards, associating that with gambling. All women should have long hair. No make-up. No movies. Girls can’t play basketball because of the short uniforms. These were not immature believers however. They were members of a particular church who believed their ideas were super-spiritual. I remember that my mother, as she matured in her Christian faith and who diligently read and studied the Bible, came to believe that she would not be condemned to hell if she put on some lipstick. So, she bought a tube of lipstick. She sat in front of a mirror in the living room, and all of we siblings gathered around her to watch her apply the lipstick. We couldn’t wait for my dad to come home. My dad was not one who noticed a lot of things. If we completely re-arrange a room, or put up new wallpaper, he often didn’t notice things like that, but he did notice my mother wearing lipstick. He just chuckled and referred to her as “Jezebel.” She wore lipstick the rest of her life and was a super Christian.
The Lesson: Be careful not to use your freedom to eat meat offered to idols, or do some other things that are questionable to new believers lest you cause some Christian brother to sin whose conscience is weaker than yours.
Mature believers should not commit a sin by doing something he/she knows is not sinful. Hmmmmm!