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Daily Devotional | Acceptable Differences

Devotions

My father was a fan of Dixieland jazz. If I complained about it, he usually responded with the Latin phrase: De gustibus non est disputandem, which means, “In matters of taste, there can be no disputes.” While one person has a great love of jazz, another might only listen to classical music. It all depends on their personal taste.

The differences mentioned in today’s reading weren’t merely questions of good or bad taste. They were matters of conscience. Paul addresses specific debates having to do with food. While one person’s faith allowed them to eat everything, another would eat only vegetables (v. 2). Others disputed about the observance of sacred days (v. 5).  We don’t know the exact nature of these differences except to say that they were issues of faith and food. In Corinth, there were differences about whether Christians should eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8:4). Some in the Galatian churches disagreed about the observance of sacred days. As long as these differences did not compromise the gospel, Paul counseled toleration (Rom. 14:3).

However, Paul does point out that this did not mean that every difference of opinion was merely a matter of personal taste. Some in Corinth had crossed the line by exercising their liberty in a way that caused others to violate their conscience (1 Cor. 8:9–11). Those in Galatia had probably adopted the Jewish calendar and were requiring Gentiles to observe it. Paul viewed this as a form of bondage to the law (Gal. 4:9–10). Again, it returns to acting in love, valuing others above our own personal choice.

>> How does loving our neighbor influence our tastes and preferences? If we love others, we must consider how our actions affect them. We should not look contemptuously on those who differ from us when it is a matter of personal conscience. The law of love may even require us to limit our personal freedom as an act of love (1 Cor. 8:13).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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