Friday, October 21, 2016

Freedom Versus Responsibility

Chuckle: "Mom," yelled Johnnie from the kitchen, "you know that dish you were always worried that I would break?" "Yes, dear, what about it?" "Well, your worries are over."
Quote: "There is no question facing contemporary man which is more relevant and more clamant than this: how are we to use our freedom?" --Michael Green, "Jesus Spells Freedom"

"All things are lawful (permissible) for me, but all things are not helpful (beneficial" (1 Corinthians 6:12 NKJV).
As a boy, my father taught me a valuable lesson. One Saturday afternoon, I asked my pastor father to go with me to see a movie. As I recall, "Black Beauty" was playing. Dad said to me, "son, I would love to go with you but I cannot." You see, in those days some people believed the local movie theater was a "den of iniquity." Even though my dad, as a pastor, saw nothing wrong with his going to see the movie, he knew that his going would offend some people and damage his credibility in their eyes and hinder his ministry to them. Exercising His freedom wasn't worth the price.
Balancing the freedom Christians have in Christ with conduct that does not do spiritual harm to others is a life-long struggle. God would have each of us be responsible stewards of the freedoms given us through our faith in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures tell us that we are free from sin and guilt, and also free to enjoy and use everything that comes from God. But our conduct should always be such that others are attracted to Christ, even if it means denying ourselves certain freedoms that would otherwise be lawful and appropriate before God.
The apostle Paul said by his actions that "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22b NIV). Paul was willing to give up some of the freedoms he had in Christ in order to better relate to those still holding to the strict requirements of God's Old Testament Law. His ultimate goal was to make the gospel of Jesus Christ understandable and acceptable to all people.
If we are truly focused on leading people to Christ, our freedoms will become secondary to our primary goal of spreading the gospel. Paul said, "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible" (1 Cor. 9:19 NIV).
Though your actions may be consistent with your freedom from sin in Christ, you should avoid actions that could hinder your growing relationship with God and impede others from seeking to know Christ. Perhaps the words of James are appropriate here. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins" (James 4:17 NIV). True freedom is not doing what we want, but the ability to do what is right. As Christians, our responsibilities should take precedence over our freedoms.
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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