Freedom to Serve

Posted 4/15/2003 8:30:09 AM

I recently had the opportunity to Biblically respond to a Christian brother's offense at something I was doing with our youth group. It wasn't easy to do, but it was the right thing to do.

Being Impartial

James 2:1-4 warns us against partiality. Whether or not a person agrees with me, or can provide some benefit to me, I am to treat them all alike. I am not to prefer the person who agrees with me, the people who are in the same mind with regards to our activity.

No Grudges

Now that the activity's been cancelled, Leviticus 19:18 commands us to not bear any grudge, or seek vengeance. I've not told anybody the name of the brother, so as not to avoid this issue. If the young people don't know who the person is, they can't bear a grudge against him. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially for younger, not as mature, people. They are self-centered, mostly get what they want, so to be denied because of somebody's objections is an unusual and disturbing event for them.

Consideration for Others

What this all boils down to is a lesson in freedom to serve. Yes, as Christians, we can enjoy a broad range of activites, all of which must be filtered through the Bible for approval. Different people, with different backgrounds and understanding of Scripture, come to different conclusions about many aspects of life. We call this "Christian Liberty" to be able to be free from the bonds of sinful tendencies when considering our actions. Paul, in Romans 14 discusses this issue. He uses two examples to make his point:

  1. Food offered to idols
  2. Special days in the week
Idols and Special Days
People find Christ as their hope and salvation from all sorts of religious and cultural backgrounds. Many of the Romans in Paul's day were part of religions that would offer all sorts of things to their gods, for blessing, in a belief that they would be more prosperous if they did. This thinking pervaded their lives, right down to the food they ate daily.

Paul makes it clear that sensitivity toward others' opinions regarding something even as mundane and amoral as food is really important, because it has to do with preserving unity in the body of Christ. He makes it clear that food is not nearly as important as your Christian brother's walk in Christ Rom 14:21.

As for days in the week, this could be talking about Saturday vs. Sunday for the day of rest, or even holidays that are celebrated. In any case, whether it's food, holidays, or youth group activities, the point is that a brother's spiritual welfare is more important than our preferences.

Once that is decided, we have to make sure our hearts and minds are in tune with what we say and do. Paul is very conscious of this, and warns both parties to neither judge one because of his freedom, nor be contemptous of the other because of his limitations. Rom 14:3,4,10

Love one another

The goal of Christian liberty is to serve Gal 5:13-14, in following with the second part of the greatest commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

All verses in this article