The Welfare Of Others Over My Freedom

The Welfare Of Others Over My Freedom

[Keep] faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
–1 Timothy 1:19

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul gave us three principles for making decisions in the gray areas of the Christian life. First, a proper understanding of grace elevates love above knowledge. Just because you know you are free to do something does not mean you should do it.

Second, good grace elevates the welfare of others over my freedom. In Corinth, there was a market where you could buy the excess meat from offerings that were brought to the pagan temple. But the church was divided about whether it was okay to eat that meat. You see, there were some new converts from paganism who did not yet understand that there was only one real God. So to them, eating that meat was sinning against the right God by eating something that had been offered to a pagan god. Look at verse 7: “Some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”

God places a conscience in each one of us to warn us of behavior that could be harmful to us. John MacArthur described it this way: “Conscience is God’s doorkeeper to keep us out of places where we could be harmed. As we mature, conscience allows us to go more places and to do more things because we will have more spiritual strength and better spiritual judgment.”

When my girls turned sixteen, they asked if they could have a car. Now, we never would have given a car to them when they were five years old–we did not even let them walk down the street by themselves. But our sixteen-year-old daughters had the maturity and understanding to know where to go and where not to go. As a result, we could give them more freedom.

It is the same way with our conscience–as we mature, we have more freedom. When somebody first becomes a Christian, God sets his internal warning system with a high level of sensitivity. Yet if that new Christian sees you doing something that sets off his conscience, he may ignore it and follow your behavior instead. And what happens? Paul said his conscience is defiled. If you ignore your conscience frequently enough, eventually you will not be able to feel it any longer. That is why we need to be careful about our behavior. When we exercise a freedom we have that another Christian does not, it could lead to their conscience being permanently damaged.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

John MacArthur, “A Weak Conscience,” Grace to You, June 16, 2021, https://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0121/a-weak-conscience.

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