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Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
“Selfies”—pictures people take of themselves with digital cameras or smartphones and post on social media—can be fun, but they also reflect the self-centered spirit of our times. That’s why Oxford Dictionaries named selfie its 2013 Word of the Year. The winning word is “judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”
Which word should capture the main spirit of followers of Christ? Love. Because of love, stronger (in faith) believers should forego exercising their freedom because it would put a stumbling block in the way of weaker believers (vv. 13–16).
It’s not that the weak believer’s way is better, for “nothing is unclean in itself,” but rather that they have tender consciences that need to be handled with love (vv. 22–23). To act otherwise is to have a destructive impact in the life of a person for whom Christ died.
The exercise of freedom is not a bad thing, but there are higher values and priorities in God’s kingdom, namely, people. Why would we risk the work of God for the sake of food? Stronger believers should instead make choices that lead “to peace and to mutual edification” (v. 19). It’s not about the issue, it’s about the people, and those weaker believers are brothers and sisters in Christ. In such relationships, to flaunt the freedom of faith would thus demonstrate a sinful lack of love (cf. 1 Cor. 8:9–13).
Commentator Douglas Moo summarized today’s main point: “The ‘strong’ Christians must be careful not to cause the ‘weak’ Christians to suffer spiritual harm by their insistence on exercising their liberty on disputed matters. For such insistence violates the essence of the kingdom, which is to manifest love and concern for one another.”
Apply the Word
It’s very counter-cultural not to fight for our rights and freedoms! But this is one way that Christians offer a different way of life, by foregoing something that we are free to do out of love for someone else. Prayerfully consider whether you are judging someone for an exercise of freedom, or whether you need to extend love by not pushing for your freedom in a certain area.
Pray with Us
Moody Publishers’ Fulfillment team works hard on our Chicago campus to ensure all orders are delivered on time to our readers. Your prayers today will encourage Michael Alcazar, Junico Arroz, Arthur Eastern, and Ernesto Laya.