I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
In Romans 14, Paul commanded us not to judge others but to judge ourselves. Why? Because gray areas are gray. Look at verse 14: “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” Gray areas are not black and white because there is no clear right or wrong about them. Paul said in verse 15, “For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.” It is not just a question of whether the Bible prohibits this; it is a question of how does this behavior affect me, and how does it affect other people as well?
There are a lot of doubtful things. We can talk about dancing, going to the movies, the length of hair, or whether or not to get tattoos. I mention alcohol because it is one of the issues Paul was talking about in Romans 14:21. But it is also a debate that is raging today in many churches and Christian organizations. I can share with you three reasons I do not drink alcohol. First, Scripture warns against the dangers of alcohol. Proverbs 23:31-33 says, “Do not look on wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things and your mind will utter perverse things.” That is the danger of alcohol. Anytime you allow a substance to control or diminish your judgment, you are putting yourself in a dicey situation. Alcohol impairs our judgment and loosens our inhibitions.
A second reason I do not drink is I have to consider the possibility of alcoholism. The fact is, 1 in 7 people in the world today have a genetic predisposition toward alcoholism. We have it in my extended family. I imagine you do as well. You may say, “Well, 1 in 7; that is not that big of a deal.” Imagine you are about to get on a plane, and the gate agent says, “Before you board today, we need to tell you there is a 1 in 7 chance this plane is going to crash.” Would you get on that flight? Nobody in his right mind would do that. Why would any person in his right mind take the chance of becoming an alcoholic?
Third, I need to consider my example to other people, especially my children. Even though God has given you the freedom to drink, what impact will that have on your children or your grandchildren who may not be able to handle alcohol, who may be among those 1 in 7? We need to keep our freedom to ourselves if we are free. Do not flaunt it and cause another Christian to stumble. If you don’t have the freedom to do those things, then keep that to yourself. Make that your personal conviction. Share it with your children if you want to, but don’t try to impose your restrictions on other people. That is what Paul was saying. Gray areas are gray.
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.