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Someone approached me last Saturday at our Every Nation Building Phase 2 Event. I wasn’t sure at first why she wanted to speak to me but after listening to her, I was so delighted to have spoken to her.

Arlene attended Victory Fort years ago but moved to Singapore to work for Yahoo for about 6 years. She is now back in Manila on route to Canada.

She related her story regarding how she struggled with smoking. She knew she needed to quit. She understood the physiological and spiritual ramifications of her habit but couldn’t seem to shake it off.

She’s asked her small group leader, Joyce, to stand with her all this time to believe God for freedom from this habit. She appreciated her small group leader for not only praying with her but also for accepting her without condemnation.

Arlene said she came across my blog entitled “How About Smoking or Drinking” a few months ago that helped her build convictions to finally get rid of smoking. She’s been off it 4 months now and praises God for the victory.

Paul the apostle addresses the issue of those that are weak in the faith in Romans 14 and 15. He says that there are those who are weak in the faith that abstains from eating food sacrificed to idols. On the other hand, there are those who’s faith allows them to eat without guilt. The church was divided over this issue and Paul expressed that in the essentials, we are to be solidly united. But in the non-essentials, we can have liberty over certain issues.

  1. ACCEPT ONE ANOTHER.

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1)

We have a tendency to major in the minors – from worship style to clothing to what type of instruments we can use in church.

“One person believes he may eat anything while the weak person eats only vegetables.” (Romans 14:2)

While we may have different preferences, opinions and styles, we can move forward as the church of Jesus but being solid on the non-negotiables – salvation by faith, the Triune God and the cross.

  1. BUILD ONE ANOTHER.

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” (Romans 14:19)

We are called to build and not tear down. Paul warns the church to not cause anyone to stumble. Furthermore, he warns the believers to not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. It is not good to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Romans 14:20-21)

The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “What is the greater value?”

Our comfort or God’s kingdom?

Coolness factor or a soul saved for Christ?

Relevance or our relationship with Jesus?

Is Jesus our greatest value?

Romans 14:8 says that if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we died, we are the Lord’s.

Paul establishes the fact that we are no longer our own. Because we are not our own, our decisions are now determined by the One who does. We have been bought with a price. Our life is no longer ours alone.

  1. CELEBRATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” (Romans 15:10)

The goal is not uniformity but unity. We can have unity in the midst of diversity. We are called to appreciate it and even celebrate it.

Unity in diversity is a possibility as we aim to give God the glory.

If this is our goal – God’s glory – then we can move towards the same finish lines as long as He is our finish line.

How about drinking or smoking?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question. Let me start by saying that this blog won’t tell you what to do and what not to do. If you have a relationship with Jesus, redeemed by His blood and empowered by His Holy Spirit, I pray you’ll be able to build convictions that will honor God by seeking Him.

We are all called to holiness. And this holiness has to be gospel-driven. What does gospel-driven holiness mean? It is a gripping response to His grace – that out of our gratefulness for His redemption, we respond with a heartfelt desire to please Him in every way.

Back to smoking and drinking.

Paul, the apostle, declares in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial.” (NIV84)
He is saying that because of my freedom in Christ, I can actually do anything I want. However, in the same breath, not because I can, I should. Everything may be permissible but not everything is beneficial.

Question. Can I eat my laptop computer? Technically, I can. But because I can doesn’t mean I should.

A few chapters later, Paul gives us principles that I would like to share with you. It has helped me make decisions through the years. I can’t give you a list of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. What that would do is to catapult us back to legalistic self-righteousness and performance orientation. My goal is to help us think through all that we do in the grid of these 3 questions.

1. Will this glorify God?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Co 10:31)

Paul exhorts us to do everything for the glory of God.

Isaiah 43:7 (ESV) tells us that we have been created for His glory.
“Everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

The preposition “for” tells us that we were created by Someone intended for a particular purpose – for His glory.

2. Will it cause anyone to stumble?

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God. (1 Co 10:32)

It is true that everything may be permissible. But the Apostle Paul makes it clear that our freedom should not cause anyone in the faith to stumble. If what I am doing causes someone to stumble or cause their faith to weaken, then I shouldn’t do it.

3. Is it a good example to follow?

Two verses later in the following chapter, Paul declares “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Will what I will do be a good example to follow?
If my kids see me, will it be a good thing to imitate? I realize the dichotomy in some of our statements at times to our children. “Do as I say, not as I do.” It seems that there may be a double standard somewhere. The Father that calls our children to holiness is the same Father that calls us as well.

If people who are far away from Christ see me, will it be a good example for them to follow?
I wonder how many people far away from Christ have been turned off by us because we haven’t been good examples.

I pray that these 3 questions would help us build convictions that will lead to a lifestyle of gospel driven holiness. The question is not how close I can stay by the cliff before I fall off but how far I can be from the cliff so that I don’t displease the One who gave His life for me.

Have a great week ahead.