By sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
–1 Corinthians 8:12
When it comes to deciding on the gray areas of life, Paul gave us three principles based on a proper understanding of grace. First, good grace elevates love above knowledge. Second, good grace elevates the welfare of others over my freedom. Finally, good grace elevates God’s interests above my desires.
The poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” and that is especially true for Christians. We are not individual islands unto ourselves; we belong to one another. The most common image of the church in the New Testament is the body of Christ. When you trust in Christ for your salvation, you are not just joined to the head of the body, Jesus Christ; you are joined together with other Christians in a spiritual but very real sense. That is why 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “You are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” What you do affects other Christians, just as what one body part does affects other parts of your body as well.
Can you ever imagine taking a hammer and smashing your thumb as hard as you possibly could? Why would one hand do something that brings such pain to another part of your body? The only thing more ridiculous than that would be to take the hammer and hit yourself in the head with it. Would you do that? Of course not. Yet when you sin against another Christian, you are not only hurting that person and hurting yourself, but you are also hurting the head, Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “By sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ” (8:12).
That means if you are a Christian, the question you should ask yourself is not “How does this decision affect me?” but “How does my behavior affect other people?” And the Bible is very clear: my freedom ends when it negatively impacts somebody else. Do not fall into the trap of saying, “It is all about me and my freedom.” God is interested in something more than your freedom. He has interests that supersede your freedom, and one of His interests is the well-being of other people. Bad grace exalts our personal freedom over every other consideration, but good grace understands that God’s interests are more important than our desires.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
John Donne, “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions,” in Devotions upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel (New York: Vintage, 1999), 103.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org