Paul continues to address how we each honor God but he goes deeper into how we honor one another too while doing so. He addresses how we show our love to our brothers and sisters by being sensitive to their level of faith.
Last time Paul instructed us to welcome the “weaker” brother/sister without criticizing him/her. Today he tells us to even refrain from exercising our freedoms in front of those who, by viewing our conduct and possibly participating themselves, might stumble in their relationship with God. This demonstrates our love for our weaker brother/sister.
We are to consider what is more important to us; our brother’s faith or our own freedoms. Paul is not telling us to forego our freedoms permanently but simply to hold off engaging in them in the presence of those who don’t yet have the faith to grasp those same freedoms.
Our freedoms are not in jeopardy by not engaging in them. We are free to engage in them outside our weaker brother’s presence. Our attitude when abstaining though is even more important. Setting aside our freedom should be done out of love for our brother, NOT as a condemnation to others who don’t abstain. Paul and Peter would get into this issue later on.
We are laying aside our freedoms out of love. If our brother asks us about it, I believe that we are free to discuss the issues with them is a loving manner. NO criticism! God is the one who will lead them into this freedom when HE is ready to.
I had an opportunity to practice this as a teenager. My sister and I spent two weeks with our cousin. Her family was from a denomination that greatly restricted the clothing options for its members. Girls wore dresses; period. My sister and I observed these same rules while staying in our cousin’s home, even though we did not adhere to these rules at home. We honored her beliefs out of love. We also did no try and convince her that she was being restricted by her church’s doctrines. We left that in God’s hands.
These issues don’t determine salvation! They don’t separate us from God for engaging or not engaging. They don’t constitute sin UNLESS the one engaging believes it to be sinful. And if the one who believes an act to be sinful engages in that act because of your example, God says YOU have caused them to sin. The act itself is not sinful but your enticement of another to engage in what to them is sin, is sin for you too. DON’T put yourself in between a brother and his Maker.
Sorry to sound “preachy” today. I have seen others hurt by my freedoms before and want to warn you of the danger. Please show the love I failed to. It costs you so little.
Father God, please forgive me for not loving my brothers and sisters in the way I should. Please forgive me for thinking of my freedoms above their faith. Let me show Your love instead. Thank You for the opportunities to demonstrate Your love that I didn’t miss too. I’m so happy that my cousin found the freedom You created for her too. In Your time Father.