Devotion – November 18, 2015 – Sacrificing Our Freedom

romans15_1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
—Romans 15:1

Adam and Stephanie had been dating since the beginning of Fall.  Every week Adam invited some friends over to watch the football game, but Stephanie noticed something odd about this.  Most weeks Adam would pick up some beer on Saturday to share with his friends during the game, but the two times when Adam’s friend Steve came over for the game, Adam just served soda.

One day Stephanie decided to ask Adam about this.  “Adam, why don’t you serve beer when Steve comes over?”  Adam explained, “Steve is a recovering alcoholic.  While I don’t have any problem having a beer from time to time, I know it would make Steve’s struggle more difficult if everyone was drinking around him.  So, I don’t have beer when he’s around.”

In Christ, we have freedom.  All through chapter 14 of Romans and into chapter 15, it talks about the freedom we have in Christ, but how others, especially those young in the faith, may not fully understand that freedom.  At the time Romans was written, many Christians were Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah.  They had lived their entire lives treating some food as clean and others as unclean (which should not be eaten), but in Christ all foods were made clean.  Those more mature in their faith understood this and had no problem eating food which was formerly considered unclean, but many who were new to the faith still held on to the Jewish food laws.

In our passage in Romans the mature Christians were being told that if their eating certain foods offended the weaker Christians and caused them to stumble, they should, out of love for their weaker Christian brothers and sisters, refrain from eating the “unclean” foods around them.  In other words, they should willingly lay aside their freedom for the sake of their brother or sister.

Today, we may not have as many people concerned with food laws, but there are those who refrain from drinking alcohol or consider certain days to be holy or consider certain practices to be important to their faith.  Our attitude should always be like that of Christ, who laid aside his glory and freedom and made himself a servant in order that we should saved.  So, we too should be willing to lay aside our freedoms for the sake of our Christian brothers and sisters, choosing to bear with their weakness instead of seeking to please ourselves indulging in our freedom at the cost of causing others to stumble.

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for the freedom You have given us in Christ.  Help me to be wise to know when indulging those freedoms will cause others to stumble and help me to be loving towards them, bearing their weakness instead of only seeking to please myself.

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