It’s Monday Grace!
Last week I wrote about the “weaker brother.” I have also noticed a strange, perhaps reactionary, claim from some to be “stronger.” They celebrate their “strength” by revealing the sinful compromises in their lives.
A couple years ago it seemed popular for people from certain groups to post pictures of the liquor bottles emptied at their Christian group meetings. The bottles would be lined up on the counter with a note that said something like, “Great fellowship last night!” This was supposed to impress us by showing us how free and strong the posters were.
All kinds of things that were forbidden by the legalist culture are flaunted today by these “strong” believers. They display these actions as evidence of their superior understanding under grace.
Now, before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I don’t care about your use of alcohol. Nor do I really care about having wine or beer at a Christian gathering. Those limitations are particularly American evangelical and the rest of the world, through history, has not been overly concerned about them. But they do not show that you are strong.
I would suggest that displaying these actions as evidence of strength is rather a sign of weakness. One is not strong because he can show off what others believe to be compromises. The desire to shame, or tempt, or scold others does not come from strength.
To be “strong in the Lord” is to walk in freedom and in love. In fact, the one time the phrase is used (Ephesians 6:10) it follows admonitions to honor parents and obey slavemasters. It is to live in freedom even while enduring restrictions. To be strong in the Lord is to stand for Him when trouble comes. The call is followed by the command to take up the armor of God in fighting the evil one.
Strong believers do not walk through life mocking others who are weak. Nor do they make fun of those who hold to different standards. They simply live their relationship with the Lord in the freedom He gives them. They eat and drink without concern about defilement. They interact with the world as Jesus leads them without fear or judgment or compromise.
Be strong in the Lord. That’s a good thing. And keep your mouth shut about your freedoms, especially around those who are still learning and struggling. It is not your job to tempt others. In fact, you don’t even want to work for the one who tempts them.