This passage urges us to pursue peace and harmony and not let the childish and petty things of life divide us. This passage uses the illustration of food as a point of division in the early church to drive home this position! We are not to cause people to stumble by our actions or inactions. Our faith and actions are monitored closely by God as well as by other people, and we must realize that our actions are more influential than our words. We will either lift people up or bring them down! Hypocrisy is perhaps the most deadly threat to new or weak Christians who fall victim to it, and is a heinous sin against Christ and His children by those who cause it! We, as a body of Christ, must seek to show right actions to each other, to be cautious, and to act with charity, humility, and self-denial within our Christian liberty.
· Paul was overcome by his liberation in and by Christ (Mark 7:18-19). He stressed that we must behave and be responsible in the correct manner. We many enjoy our freedom, but freedom does not entitle one to do anything one wants, just as living in a "free" county like the US does not.
· Our human tendency is to persuade others to agree with our views. God's purpose is to get us in line with His views. Yet so many Christians spend all of their time as pursuers of argumentation and not pursuers of holiness! There are times when we need to take a stand for correct doctrine and virtue with His Word, and there are times we need to separate childish, petty things from real things. For example, thinking that the KJV is the only true version is just plain stupid and goes against Hebrews 4:11-16, yet so many fight for this belief and do not pursue what we are called to do!
· Do not destroy NKJV/ Do not Allow NIV is a reverence to the OT (Duet. 28:21-63) meaning we are cut off from the community (Church) or in the OT Jewish covenant community, and Paul uses it as the serious nature of our disobedience verses the blessings we can have Duet. 28:1-20): Do not let petty things destroy you! We must pursue peace with one other in Christ, and be unified. Nothing is accomplished in the Kingdom of God by our fighting.
· It distorts us from the true missions of the church--Discipleship, Worship, Unity, Exercising Gifts, Evangelism, Missions, and Outreach to the needs of others. All this leads to immaturity in Christ. Our grievances (v.15) become offenses (v. 21) that turn into making others weak (v. 21), thus causing them to fall away from the faith (vs. 13, 21)!
· The Kingdom of God means the reign of God-past, present, and future! He is in charge of all things, sovereign in Heaven and in our will (Phil. 2- working out our salvation is the struggle to allow His will to envelop ours) as His child, and our future hope! We must not allow our freedom in Christ to be a detriment to others.
· We are to be in fellowship with one other regardless of the level of our maturity and faith.
A true Christian will never destroy another person's faith so they can have their own way! Our freedom must not bring dishonor, division, or disrepute to the church. Our freedom must not be a matter of shallow things such as our food, or what we do on Sunday afternoon, or if we dance or if we drink wine. (I am not condoning the consumption of alcohol, but remember both Calvin and Luther were heavy drinkers! Moreover, the Bible does not condemn its use. In fact, it promotes it. (See Gen.14:18; Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13; Ruth 2:14; Psalm 104:15; Prov. 3:10; Luke 10:34; John 2:3; 1 Tim 5:23). Wine in the Bible had an alcohol content of 5% to 12%+, just as wine today has. That is basic fermentation science. To say Biblical wine had no alcohol is being very unknowledgeable about how fermentation takes place. By the way, the orange juice in your refrigerator has up to 5%+ alcohol in it! The Bible is against the misuse of wine and drunkenness (Gen. 9; 19:32; 1 Sam. 1:24; 2 Sam 16:1; 2 Kings 18:32; Prov. 4:17; 20:1; 23:20; 1 Tim. 3:8)! There is no Scripture in the Bible that says that games are wrong such as playing cards, yet this was a line that separated a true Christian from a false Christian for many years in America, which was purely childish and silly. We must not argue with people out of our petty presumptions and feelings. Rather, we are to let Biblical convictions and the core truths of our faith infuse us so we can maintain and model them!
Conviction is the role of the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; Acts 1:8; 4:31; 10:45; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 3:16-17; Heb. 13:5-6). We must never we allow ourselves to be swayed from our convictions (ones that are Biblically based) by peer pressure.If you are not sure if something is right or wrong, butt out! Seek wise council. Do not allow yourself to parrot others around you. Check out the facts. Do not buy into rumors, and do not spread rumors even if they are true. Rather, follow the precepts of Matthew 18!We must realize that both the non-Christian and the weak Christian will scrutinize our actions. Thus, it is paramount that we behave in a manner devoid of hypocrisy, pride, envy, deceit, anger, malice, legalism, etc (1 Pet 2:1-10). Our focus must be on edifying and encouraging, things rare in the church today! God approves when we are walking in Him! God does not approve when we are walking by ourselves, comforted in our own petty presumptions and ignoring His love and truth!
- How did you handle disputes as a child, such as having a friend play with your favorite toy when you did not want them to?
- Have you ever offended anyone by eating or drinking the wrong thing?
- Have you ever been overcome by something?
- How do you determine what is right and wrong?
- How would you describe this passage to a new Christian?
- What do you consider as childish and petty in life, at work, or at school?
- What do you consider as childish and petty in the church?
- What do you think it means to behave and be responsible?
- What views does your church stress for people to agree with?
- Are they Biblical and just? If so, how do people handle them? If not, what does the church need to do?
- God's purpose is to get us in line with_______________________? Why?
- Why do so many Christians spend all of their time and efforts as pursuers of argumentation and not pursuers of holiness? What do you suppose is their rationalization?
- There are times we need to take a stand for correct doctrine or virtue. What are examples of this?
- There are times we are to separate childish and petty things from real things. What is an example?
- Are there issues that are your pet peeves, things that you hate and wish you could attack?
- How do you decide if they are right or wrong?
- How should the church leadership decide when an issue is worth the fight or not?
- When the Bible is not explicit with an issue, such as card playing or work ethics, how should we decide if it is right or wrong?
- How do we respond to others doing something we think is wrong?
- What issues have you observed people in the church fighting over, rather than pursuing what we are called to do?
- Why is nothing positive accomplished in the Kingdom of God by our fighting?
- Then why do we fight so much? How does fighting distort us from the true mission of the church? Why would this lead to immaturity in Christ?
- Why is fellowshipping with one other regardless of the level of maturity and faith important?
- Why would a true Christian destroy another one's faith so that he could have his own way?
- What does freedom in Christ mean to you?
- When do we cross the line from dishonor, division, and disrepute in the church to exercising our liberty and freedom?
- Our freedom must not be a matter of shallow things. What do you consider as shallow things?
- Why do some Christians make such a big deal about drinking wine?
- What is your belief about wine for communion (Matthew 26:27-29)?
- What have been some of the petty presumptions and feelings you have observed among some Christians?
- How could your doing something that another person thinks of as wrong cause them to sin?
- How do you feel that your actions are scrutinized by the non-Christian, and the weak/new in faith?
- Why should we bow to someone else's sense of right and wrong, even if they are silly?
- How can you not allow your freedom in Christ to be a detriment to others?
- What can you do so you will never allow yourself to be swayed from your convictions (that are Biblically based) by peer pressure?
- How can you let Biblical convictions, the core truths of our faith, infuse you so you can maintain and model them?
- How can your church pursue peace with one other in Christ?
- Our focus must be on edifying and encouraging. So, what can your church do to make this a priority?
God approves us when we are walking in Him!
© 1998, 2002, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org