Convictions | What To Do In A Crazy World
Monday— Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions (v.1)
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!” roared George, pointing at Connor. He turned to shout toward a group of guys. “Hey, get a load of this guy! He thinks we should have church on Saturdays instead of Sundays! Hahaha…” Connor hugged his big King James close to his chest. He’d only been a Christian for a few weeks and it seemed like the Bible said to keep the Sabbath, but if they were gonna laugh… He moved away from George and smiled when he saw Emily. She might know. But she was giggling at a visitor, a lady with a doily on her head. Connor sighed. How was he supposed to learn anything?
Human beings can be cruel and, unfortunately, Christians are no exception. We love to flaunt our knowledge, but often what we assume to be knowledge is only opinion. And opinions inflate our pride. Pride is bad, but spiritual pride is worse. Do we ridicule babies taking a first step? Do we mock kindergarteners sounding out first words? No, we praise them for beginning their journey toward wisdom. We must do the same for baby Christians. When someone enters the family of God, there’s a lot to learn. They’re not going to get it all right for a while. They might even form some strange opinions at first, but ridicule doesn’t help. The job of older Christians is to listen, encourage, gently instruct, and teach them how to find answers for themselves.
Final Thought: What younger Christian in your life might need your encouragement and gentle instruction?
Prayer: Lord, I’m convicted about the times I’ve made someone else feel stupid instead of encouraging them. I don’t know everything either, so help me stay humble and teachable and willing to patiently help others grow. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification (v 19).
Whooo boy! Read that verse again. Now think about how well the news outlets, social media, YouTubers, and bloggers are doing with it. Exactly the opposite. In fact, a new national pastime is to pursue what leads to chaos and personal vindication. Much of the noise could be summarized as this: “I’m right, and anyone who thinks differently is a racist, idiotic, woman-hating Nazi!” Unbelievers couldn’t care less what the Bible says about their behavior, but Romans 14 wasn’t written to unbelievers. Who is told to pursue what leads to peace and mutual edification? US! God’s people. How’re we doing?
Not much better. Satan is cackling at how well his strategy to divide and silence the church is working. From rogue Governors threatening legal action to instigators keeping passions stirred up, assaults against God’s people are increasing. Many Christians don’t realize they’re being manipulated by their enemy and his propaganda machine. Satan hisses in their ears, “You thought she was your friend, but she’s not marching. Tell her she’s part of the problem.” To another he suggests, “That guy’s not wearing a mask so he’s a fool who wants to kill people. Call him out on Facebook.” Those ideas are not prompts from the Holy Spirit. Those are opinions that Satan has twisted into fake righteousness. They do not lead to peace and edification. The peace God commands us to pursue is not unbiblical compromise; it’s an attitude that helps us choose our battles wisely.
Final Thought: What are you doing during these turbulent times to pursue what leads to peace and mutual edification?
Prayer: Father, am I pursuing the kind of peace that you want? Do the battles I’m choosing lead to mutual edification? Help me understand where my opinions are coming from and be willing to change them when you convict me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble (v. 20).
“What? Did you see that?” Sarah exclaimed. She pointed to a table in the shade of Artemis’ temple where two men were enjoying a sumptuous feast. Rachel drew her shawl tightly around her as she gawked at their church elders. “I…I can’t believe it!” she exclaimed. “They know that meat was offered to Artemis just this morning! How could they do that? I gave all that up last year when I came to faith in Jesus. How could they enjoy something so evil? Are they going back to their old ways?”
Rachel’s church elders had a clear conscience about eating the finest cuts of meat that had been offered to an idol. They were in no way participating in evil by buying choice meat at a low price. But in a city filled with pagan temples, their church was packed with new converts fresh out of Idol University. To the new believers, meat sacrificed to idols was offensive because it represented everything they had forsaken. So Paul says that for the sake of weaker believers, mature Christians should willingly avoid eating that meat. Today we don’t worry about meat offered to idols, but dozens of other debatable areas have the potential to offend someone who equates it with sin. When we indulge anyway, we are wronging them and displeasing God. Love requires us to gladly limit our freedoms in order not to offend those God has called us to serve.
Final Thought: What liberties might you be enjoying with a clear conscience that could represent evil to another believer?
Prayer: Father, I’m willing to have your Holy Spirit convict me about liberties I may be enjoying, but by doing so I am causing others to stumble. What rights am I stubbornly defending that may create offense without my knowing? Teach me. Amen.
Thursday— If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning (v. 23).
“Hey, we’re all going to the casino Saturday night to hear that new band you like. Come with us!” Terry fiddled with his keys as he pretended to unlock his car door. They were his friends. His new friends. It wouldn’t be like the past when he’d been at that casino every night getting plastered and losing a lot of money. So why were his palms sweating? Why had his mouth gone dry? He was trying to follow Jesus now and somehow the idea of Jesus in the casino didn’t fit. If Jesus didn’t fit, Terry didn’t fit. He found his voice and turned to his Christian friends. “Thanks, guys, but I won’t be able to make it. Get me a T-shirt!”
Was Terry being a religious legalist? Was he judgmental? No, he was obeying this verse. He knew he could not enter a casino with a clear conscience because his close walk with the Lord had resulted in godly convictions. Convictions are not popular anymore. We’ve labeled them legalism or religion; God labels them obedience. Convictions sprout from a sensitive conscience and a Bible-saturated mind that produces this truth: “Others may; you cannot.” While God’s commands are for everyone, godly convictions are for you. Consider some debatable areas where Christians might disagree: Getting a tattoo. Going to movie theaters. Drinking alcohol. Working on Sundays. How do you respond when God convicts you about something debatable?
Final Thought: Has your walk with the Lord resulted in godly convictions? How do you treat others with different views?
Prayer: Father, have I let culture or conviction shape my worldview? What areas are you wanting to deal with but I haven’t been willing to hear? Help me learn the difference between a scriptural command and a personal conviction. Amen.
Friday— So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. (v. 12)
Ever since “The dog ate my homework” kept us from flunking Science, we’ve continued to be excuse factories. Excuses come so naturally we even fool ourselves into believing them. Sure, it’s the kids’ fault you haven’t been to church in six months. Your job keeps you too tired to read your Bible, and everyone cusses at work so your language isn’t as bad as theirs. Since excuses seem to work with everyone else, we assume God will buy them too. Even when we pray, don’t we slip in a couple of excuses about our sin? “Well, Lord, I know I shouldn’t scream at my family, but they won’t listen.” Or, “Father, I know what your word says about this, but I’m (lonely, tired, angry) and I (love, like, need) this (person, habit, hookup).” Does He buy our excuses?
No. God says He keeps careful records of both our righteous and unrighteous deeds, thoughts, words, and motives. He is eager to reward us for anything we do for Him, but our sin will be judged. There is no such thing as “my good will outweigh my bad” in heaven’s accounting department. So God arranged for His Son to be punished for our bad. Every time we sin, we have the option of repenting and letting Jesus suffer for it—or paying the price ourselves. Repenting means we agree with God about how bad it is and turn away from it. Paying it ourselves means HELL. Forever. Excuses don’t work there either.
Final Thought: When you give an account of yourself to God, will you have repented or are you preparing excuses?
Prayer: Lord God, the thought of standing before you without excuses is a little frightening. I can’t fool you, but am I fooling myself? Am I making excuses instead of repenting? Help me know the truth before I get to that day. In Jesus’ name, amen.