This past week I did something I have not done in 3 years – took 7 days in a row off – which included no Internet. It has been very refreshing! While I was away quite a few questions have come to me – one I will deal with today – the other is about how secure our salvation is. That is a long paper and I will post it soon as an article.
Several questions revolved around questionable areas and maturity – with this in mind I share this:
When my son Chris was about 3 years old, we lived in Hawaii. Our Condo was a three bedroom, so I kept office there at first. Next to my office, to the left was Chris’s bedroom and to the right was our bathroom. Our toilet had a leak inside the tank, so you had to jiggle the handle to make the plug drop all the way. One day I was typing in my office, when Chris…being only 3…had to announce to me that he needed to “potty.” I told him to remember to jiggle the toilet, he said ok. After a while I noticed I still heard the tank leaking, so I called to Chris and told him to jiggle the toilet. He said he did, but I told him to do it again.
Again, after sometime I noticed the noise, so we went through this again. On the third time…now being irritated with the interruption, I said firmly, Christopher Alan Leigh…that’s why Americans have three names, so their parents can let them know they are in trouble! He said “what dad?” I explained that I needed that toilet jiggled, he said “but I did” – I said, “show me”. We went into the bathroom…and my 3-year-old son straddled the toilet and tried to shake it as hard as he could!! I just laughed and showed him what I meant, which of course he replied “why didn’t you just say so!”
I assumed my son could discern what I meant, I was wrong. Truth must be discerned properly or we can do some pretty silly things.
Christian life begins with Truth and how you deal with it.
The believer that is committed to Truth – will find the real battleground revolves around Liberty Issues
What are Liberty Issues? They are the majority of our life. Very small parts of our life consist of black and white commands from God. Most of our life involves issues that God did not directly speak to – so we are left with the freedom and the responsibility to make a decision.
How we dress, what we eat and drink, listen to, watch, spend our time on.
This is the battleground. If we handle Liberties correctly we mature, if we do not, they will become the hindrances to our walk with God.
Discernment - Ln: discernere - to separate, divide, distinguish between
Defined: (1) To see distinctly
(2) To distinguish mentally
For the committed believer the issue of maturity revolves around Liberties. If you have a problem obeying black and white commands of scripture, you are not serious. However, if you are serious about your walk, the flesh and our adversary concentrate on the liberty issues
The key passage that deals with this issue is found in the book of Romans
Romans 14 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him judge whether they are right or wrong. And with the Lord’s help, they will do what is right and will receive his approval. In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead. So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “ ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.’ ” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.
We will look at this text in future devos, but first I want to give you three essential questions we should consider when we deal with liberty issues.
Three Key Questions that will give you discernment.
· 1. Does it glorify God?
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
How can we do this? You can eat chocolate to the glory of God, He is the one Who gave us our taste buds. When we enjoy the gift He has given us we glorify Him. The problem comes when we become gluttons and enjoy 6 Pounds of chocolate!!
· 2. Am I walking in love – How does this affect others around me?
Romans 14:15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
One time I remember I was on a treadmill and a Filipino got on one next to me. They can be quite blunt. He said, “Wow, you sure are fat”. To be honest my first thought was “Oh yea, well you are ugly, and I can lose this fat, but you are stuck with that face!” Obviously I knew right away that the Lord would not want me to say that. I chose to NOT respond in a way that would not show the love of our Lord.
· 3. If you doubt = don't!
Romans 14:23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
If you need to ask you need to wait!
Meditation Questions: Have you thought about what your liberties are? What are they? If you don’t know, what does that say? Do you seek other’s opinions to find out what you can and cannot do? What does that say? What is the difference between seeking counsel and seeking validation? Why should we care what others think if we have the “right” to do what we want?