Others May – I Cannot

It is no wonder that people get confused by Christianity. Some Christians say that “all things are lawful” and all is permissible while others fear to do anything, afraid they will “grieve the Holy Spirit”. Such diversity of opinion was not unknown even in the early church. In Corinth, Paul had to mediate a dispute about eating meat that had been offered to idols. (see 1 Cor. 8) On the one hand, some felt eating the meat would pollute them and, as they probably once took part in such practices, thought they should separate themselves from any hint of association. The other side felt that idols were nothing to begin with, and as the meat was cheap, it was good stewardship of one’s money to take advantage of inexpensive food.  Paul answered the whole question not with a yes or no, but by what would encourage and not offend a fellow believer.  “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh…lest I make him stumble”. (v.13) Today, these same types of differences are still part of the Christian experience. A few years ago I was party to a conversation where one brother in the Lord felt that since Paul had told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach problems that an occasional drink of alcohol was totally permissible. Unfortunately, the non-drinking brother he was trying to persuade was a former alcoholic and no amount of Scripture was going to convince him it was OK. Both of them had valid points. It was a case of  “others may but I cannot”. In other words, it may be acceptable for you, but for me, my convictions say I need to keep away from it. Can a Christian athlete honor the Sabbath and play his ball game the same day? What about music and dancing, the stock market, fancy clothes and jewelry, big houses, theatre, or jobs in government or politics, law enforcement, or the military? In every instance you will find that some say yes, others no. What’s the answer? Search out the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit for your guides and you will always have good direction in what is right for you, realizing that God did not call you to follow Him like another follows, but to follow Him as He has called you. In light of that, bear in mind Paul’s admonishment, “Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak”, (I Cor. 8:9) realizing that in some things I may but others may not.

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