Important Principles About Gray Areas

Important Principles About Gray Areas

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
–Romans 14:17

God is more concerned with internals than externals. Paul said in Romans 14:16-18, “Do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.” If God has given you the freedom to eat and to drink, that is great. If not, that is great too, but that is not what Christianity is about. As Christians, we want to focus on the externals, don’t we? We say it is about doing this and not doing that. If you ask the average non-Christian today his definition of a Christian, he would say, “A Christian is somebody who does not do this, this, and this.” That is not what the kingdom of God is about. The kingdom of God is about love, joy, and a right relationship with God, and our behavior flows out of that. Christianity is about our relationship with God.

Another important principle is this: My love for others limits my liberty. Paul said, “We pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense” (14:19-20). Don’t tear down the work of God for the sake of a gray area.

Did you know God is in the building business? First of all, God is building up individual Christians into mature disciples. That is God’s purpose in salvation, to save people and make them more like Christ. In every Christian He is doing a construction project, making people more like Christ. But not only is He building up individual Christians, but God is also building a holy temple unto Himself (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Peter 2:5). That is, He is putting individual Christians together into an organism called the local church to be His representatives. Paul was saying, “Whatever you do, Christian, do not tear down what God is building up. Do not tear down that individual Christian whom God is growing up into a mature disciple. And whatever you do, do not tear up the Church that God is building to be a witness for Him.”

Don’t let external issues tear down an individual Christian or tear down the Church for which Christ died. That is why Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:13, “If food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” If I have the liberty to do something, then I am to limit my liberty to others, so that I do not tear down the Church. If I do not have liberty, I am not to tear down the Church by imposing my convictions on other people as well.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Tips On Tightrope Walking” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.