During our early years of ministry we lived in Mississippi near my husband’s uncle, who was also a pastor. Uncle Bud never served large churches but sometimes joked that he kept other pastors from serving small churches. Those were special years with Uncle Bud and Aunt Roberta mentoring both Bill and me.
When Uncle Bud admonished one of his sons about the unhealthy practice of tobacco, that son responded by pointing out his father’s use of coffee. From that day on, Uncle Bud did not allow even this harmless habit to be a stumbling block for his son who needed to come to faith. His example made a lasting impression on me.
Like the church at Corinth, we need to heed Paul’s warning and be concerned about our weaker members. “Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Not all habits and practices are sin, but they may get in the way of someone coming to Christ or growing in their faith.
I have to ask myself if I will do whatever it takes to be a good example before others, especially family members. What habits or practices are holding others back from making a commitment to follow Jesus? Can I be honest enough to cite errors in my way of thinking and doing? It’s not a burden to carry but an honor to be a witness to those who need to see Jesus in me.
One son asked how I got to be a legalist. That tells me something about how my actions reflect my faulty witness. It’s a starting place for change. I invite you to give me examples of legalism in my life’s practices. I want to be faithful to the calling of Christ on my life and not hinder others.
And how about you? Let’s not hold onto freedom too tightly.