This podcast covers Lesson 7 of the Graceful Living Bible Study.
Balance Your Liberty with Love
Christians are to be a love-bonded community. How well we love makes Jesus look good or bad. It’s so important because that’s what the outside world sees. And, based on the impression we give them, they make a judgment about Jesus. It’s our love-bond that brings glory to God.
Balancing liberty begins with acceptance (Romans 14:1; 15:7).
- Disputable matters are things not specifically stated as right or wrong, especially for Christians as stated in the New Testament. For any issue that arises, you can determine your response to that issue by asking 3 questions about that issue:
- Question 1: Is it a moral issue?
- Question 2: Is it stunting someone’s spiritual growth?
- Question 3: Is it disrupting unity within the Body of Christ?
Question 1: Is it a moral issue?
Absolutes are truths essential to the Christian faith. They never change.
- Absolutes are true for every believer, in every nation, in every culture, and during every time period in history.
- Absolute doctrines are those defining true Christianity, and they are non-negotiable. Examples are: The Bible is the inspired Word of God. God is a Trinity: Three Persons in One. Jesus is God, not just a human religious teacher. Jesus died and rose from the grave for the sins of the world. The Holy Spirit is God and not just a force or energy. Salvation is by grace alone through faith.
- Absolute behaviors are behaviors specifically revealed in the Scriptures, especially the New Testament, as right or wrong for every Christian. They are not disputable matters. Ephesians 4 and 5; Colossians 3
Non-absolutes are not essential to the Christian faith. They can change over time, and can be different in various cultures and time periods.
- Non-absolutes are the disputable matters. Examples in Romans 14 are food, drink, and religious celebrations. These are neutral—neither right nor wrong in themselves.
- As a Christian, you are free to determine between you and Jesus His will for you on those issues. Ask Jesus to give us guidance on a disputable matter and emerge with either personal convictions or preferences.
- Jesus may give you a personal conviction about something that is right or wrong for you individually. Then, you must live by that conviction, even though other believers may differ. If you don’t obey Him, Paul said that is sin for you. Romans 14:5,14,22
- Preferences are issues on which you may have a personal liking, but they aren’t right or wrong for you or for anyone else. These are usually traditions or customs.
- Starting with difference between absolutes and non-absolutes as the foundation, you can take any issue and follow a process to find out if it is a moral one. Gather the facts to find out if it is a moral issue addressed by Scripture. Then, consider how you respond biblically.
Question 2: Is my choice stunting someone’s spiritual growth?
- Principle #1: Regarding the non-absolutes, you may have the complete freedom to do something yourself, but it may not be beneficial to you or to those around you. 1 Corinthians 10:23
- Principle #2: There is a distinction between public and private use of liberty. When your Christian brother or sister “sees you” and is distressed by what you are doing, that’s a signal that you need to talk to Jesus about whether or not to do that activity, especially in front of them. 1 Corinthians 8:10
Question 3: Is it disrupting unity within the Body of Christ?
- Romans chapter 14:1 says, “accept him whose faith is weak.” The Greek for “accept” means to “take to oneself, to receive with a special interest suggesting a welcome.” There is an emphasis on community.
- You and I have a responsibility to contribute to and protect the love-bonded Christian community. But, more than that, we are to remember who is Lord over our church community. It belongs to Jesus Christ, not to us. And, He’s not going to free us to exercise our liberty in such a way that will divide or cause dissension in His church over a non-absolute, disputable matter.
Balance your liberty with love
- Talk to Jesus about any issue that comes up you don’t know how to handle.
- Ask if the issue is a moral issue. If yes, God already tells you how to respond. If no, then talk to Jesus about it and determine what His will is for you on that issue.
- Ask if what you are doing or not doing is stunting someone’s spiritual growth, including your own. If yes, don’t do it in their presence until they are ready. If the answer is no, great! Enjoy your liberty. Either way, you are balancing liberty with love because you considered the other person first.
- Ask if the issue is disrupting unity in the Body of Christ, especially the local church. If yes, don’t pursue it in such a way that will divide or cause dissension in His church over a non-absolute. If the answer to that question is no, great. Enjoy your liberty. Either way, you are balancing liberty with love because you considered the other believers first.
“In essentials, Unity, in non-essentials, Liberty, in all things, Love.” (Martin Luther)
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with His grace so that your life overflows with His grace every day. You will experience a life of freedom and joy!
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