Lifelines: Freedom controlled by love
by Bettie Marlowe Banner Staff Writer
Jul 04, 2014 | 205 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A teacher explained freedom to her class like this: “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” This premise holds true not only for our national freedoms, but in spiritual freedom, also.

That’s the spirit Paul was trying to convey to the church at Rome: “Don’t let your freedom be more important than your brother.”

In Romans 14, He told the Romans, if you’re strong, then be patient with the weak or the tender ones. Those who are strong should be willing to edify and please their brothers, and not offend. He asks them, “What’s wrong with you that you can’t get along with each other without picking one another to pieces?”

Can you see St. Paul saying something like this? Paul was talking to people who were sincerely trying to be the followers of Christ. They were not haphazardly serving God. They were serious about their commitment.

Some who had been converted to Christ had taken part in pagan worship before their conversion and undoubtedly carried into the church strong feelings concerning eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. This was understandable in that they felt there should be a complete break or they could be pulled back into idolatry. It would take time for their faith to build so they could look on their former deity as making no difference in their lives now.

A man who had practiced an Eastern religion was converted to Christianity and enjoyed the fellowship with newfound fellow Christians. But one day, when visiting in of their homes, he noticed “objects de art,” which were related to the religion he had left.

“These don’t mean anything to us,” the owner said. “There’s no religious significance at all — it’s just an object.” He went on to say, “But it’s certainly not important enough to keep if it makes my brother stumble. I’ll gladly get rid of it.”

Paul also discussed days. The Jews revered certain days by law; for instance, the Sabbath. To acknowledge Christ as the Sabbath put the emphasis, not on the day, but, “the sabbath was made for man.” Mark 2:27 (KJV).

So Paul says, if you regard one day as special, do it unto the Lord; or if you consider every day alike, do it unto the Lord.

That’s the key — If you eat meat, it’s with thanksgiving and unto the Lord; if a man regards the day, he regards it unto the Lord.

God knows the heart of man, and it is to God that man is responsible. Man cannot know the heart of another. But God sees the motives — He knows the “Why?” It seems that if what you allow cannot be to the glory of God, then it is sin.

If freedom — liberty — is not controlled with love, it is not the “perfect law of liberty.” James 1:25 (KJV): “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

Children of God do not deliberately hurt their brothers and sisters. Paul said if his eating meat caused his brother to stumble, he would leave it alone the rest of his life. That is putting things in the proper order. And it can’t be done without the grace of God at work in man’s heart.