Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Are You Affecting the People Around You?

Job 35:8 Your wickedness affects others like you, and your righteousness, other human beings.

I Corinthians 8:12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ

How we live our lives impacts other people. Some would argue that it makes no difference to God how we live. One young preacher asked the question, “Why would a big ole God even worry about what a little ole man like me does?” When we “sin” does God even care when in the grand scope of things man only appears as a microscopic dust particle under the divine microscope of the God of the universe? Elihu, Job’s friend, was arguing with him because he thought Job was being self-righteous and he asked, in Job 35:6 “If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied what do you do to him?”

His answer is that it really is about the people around you more than it is about God making a “naughty or nice” list for Judgment Day. In the New Testament, Paul admonishes the Corinthians on how to live their lives so they will be a blessing and not a hindrance to those “weaker in the faith.” Paul’s argument is that, yes, we have freedom as believers in Jesus. We have been freed from being slaves to the Law but it does not give us the liberty to live reckless lives that hurt the people around us. He talked about three different categories:

1. Married couples. He talked to them about not hurting one another by not denying each other of sex. I Cor. 7:3

2. Single people practicing self-control and using that passion to serve the Lord. If they could not control themselves his advice was for them to get married. I Cor 7:8,9

3. Christians participating in secular events (eating food sacrificed to idols) not offending weaker Christians. I Cor 7:7-12.

Paul was lifting up the practice of Christians purchasing meat that may have been used in the sacrifice to idols. They would bring the meat in the butcher shop on sale after an idol worship service. If a new Christian saw you walking out of the butcher shop with a stamp on your bag saying “idol meat” they might think you worshipped idols even though you didn’t, you just wanted to catch a good sale. Mature Christians know that just because I purchase food from a store that is owned by an atheist doesn’t make me atheist, but if it offends a new believer to see me then I’ll shop at the store down the street even though it inconveniences me. It’s not a “Convenient store” if it offends those weaker in the faith. It’s not about our convenience it’s about their conscience.

How we live our lives is more about the people around us than it is in how right we think we are. When we live right before God, God gets he glory and the people around us are benefited. When we abuse our freedom and wound the conscience of weaker people we sin against Christ. Jesus warns us not to abuse the “little ones” and cause them to stumble. He said it would be better for us had we not been born if we cause some of these little ones to stumble. We need to live in such a way that we are stepping stones and not stumbling blocks. As a parent there are certain activities that are okay for me to do but because my children are around me, I don’t do it in front of them because they are too immature to be exposed to it. As Christians, we must be careful that we don’t flaunt our freedom and hurt those who are not where we are. We should live our lives in a way that helps people grow and not stunt them. We shouldn’t be “Self-Righteous” because it only benefits the Self, but instead, our right-ness ought to lead others to a deeper relationship with God. If it doesn’t, our rightness can still be wicked in God’s sight.

Your question today: How am I affecting other people around me with the way I live my life?

Dear God, help me to live a life that pleases You and does not offend those closest to me. Let me live with confidence knowing I’m not causing others to stumble but instead use me as a stepping stone so others may mature and get closer to You.

In Jesus Name,

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