“And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ.”
1 Corinthians 8:12 (NLT)
Sometimes I think we have more directions and instructions than we know what to do with. Granted, there are some things in life that are absolutes that can’t be changed, like changing a flat fire. No matter who is being tasked to change the flat, if the vehicle isn’t lifted up off the ground, that tire isn’t coming off. That’s just the way it is. If you have variables and other options, I’ll be glad to pull up a chair, grab a Coke, have a snack and watch your demonstration. I’ll try to keep my comments to myself, even though there’s a right and a wrong way of changing a flat tire. Just sayin’
My smart aleckiness aside, we really are getting more directions and instructions than we know what to do with. Not all of it is simple and not all of it is true. In Christianity, however, knowing what is true is an essential if your aim is to please God. Even then, if your facts are ten eight and straight, you’ll need to be aware on how your application of that knowledge goes. We can throw out verses until Jesus returns and if they aren’t done in right spirit, you’ll wound the person you’re trying to convince before they’re even convinced.
After the apostle Paul planted a church in the port city of Corinth in 50 A.D. there were problems to address. Stuff like immorality, marriage, celibacy and the conduct of women (try addressing that one in the 21st century) had drawn a lot of questions from those who were given direction and instruction from Paul. The one really sticks out is the one where folks were eating food that had been offered up to idols. Here’s where application and knowledge are the rubber that meets the road.
“For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol?” (1 Corinthians 8:10)
In a humorous way, I guess having dinner at “The Temple of Zeus” was like being at Olive Garden. The only real problem was the practices of worship that was going on (although limitless salad and breadsticks could get a little iffy) particularly meat that was sacrificed to the various idols of the day. Granted, those who Paul brought to the Lord in Corinth knew that the god of thunder was no god at all and this prime rib with a sweet au jus certainly was no REAL sacrifice to him at all. It would be those young believers who would gather with them also, seeing what they doing and the attitude they displayed who would go… “Hey! I thought they were Christians?”
So, for everything that those “stronger” believers knew about how, “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” (1 Corinthians 15:3b-4) it would be those “weaker” believers, the ones who teeter totted between Jesus and Zeus, that would have their consciences wounded. This would be why Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to be considerate with their knowledge and application of truth. After all, if there was anyone who knew what a Pharisee looked like, it would have been Paul.
Sometimes in the comfort of knowing we have been saved and where we are going when our time on earth is over, we too can be Pharisaical…at least that’s how I feeling about myself. In my giving of direction and instruction to those who are genuinely searching to know about this Jesus I profess to have a strong faith in, I could carelessly be over confident that I can be in a place or do a particular function without any recourse and yet be seen by a weaker brother or sister as a hypocrite and hear… “Hey! I thought you were a Christian?”
At the end of the day, we wanna be the hands and feet that does the work of the Great Commission and pulls people outta the idolatry that gives its believers too many directions and instructions. When we tell them that Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30) we would want that to be the only direction and instruction they’ll ever need. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at email@example.com
Think About This: “Those who would wound a weak conscience sin against Christ. He considers the concerns of His servants to be His own. Those who are wounded make up His own body. These people are destroying the work which Christ built up by His own blood.” – John Chrysostom.