It happened again. Another person that I believe to be a solid Christian posted something on social media that I feel is very inappropriate. Yet if I say something to this person I will most likely be rebuffed and told that they have the freedom as an American and as a Christian to share what they did. Sigh. I wonder if they are correct. I wonder if I am correct too. I wonder if we all understand and realize that as Christians there are responsibilities to be kind and compassionate and careful of our words. I wonder…and so I will go to the Bible to find the answers to my wondering. The first verse that comes to mind is from the Apostle Paul.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. I Corinthians 10: 23-24, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
What is the background to this verse? The Apostle Paul has heard that there are people in the church in Corinth who are worried that some of the Christians are going back to obeying the Law of Moses when it comes to not eating foods sacrificed to idols. Other Christians believe that they can eat the food sacrificed to idols and do not feel it is a sin against God to do so. There is a quarrel brewing and people are choosing sides, or so it sounds to me when I read this. Paul begins at the giving of the Law of Moses.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? 1 Corinthians 1-22, (NASB).
“Strike one for the Rules and Regulation Camp,” calls the umpire! See, if we Christians don’t obey God’s word completely we will be destroyed and we are not to grumble or be lenient in our judgement of what a sin really is or is not! But wait for it, wait for it, read on and see what Paul says to the Freedom Camp people.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, (NASB).
“Strike one for the Freedom Camp,” calls the umpire. So I ask you are we back to first base on this discussion? No, not really. I believe that what Paul is saying here is that to follow the Law of Moses as a Christian is not appropriate because Christ’s blood was shed for our freedom from the Law. But on the other hand don’t take that freedom for granted because you were given such freedom to do good and not harm to other people. Is it wrong for a Christian to post something on social media that may be true but is unkind about anyone? Maybe not, but it is not wise either. We are given our freedom in Christ to build up and not tear down others, both Christian and non-Christian people. We are to bring glory to God in everything that we do or say and sharing your own thoughts or something someone else has shared that may be ungracious and unkind does not bring glory to our God. I am reminded of another scripture, one that burns into me on occasion.
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. James 3:6-12, (NASB).
We must be careful in what we say to others because there are consequences to words. I am trying to be a person that builds up others rather than tears others down. I do not always succeed at this, but I do try to remember that the words I speak have power. Sometimes it is better to say nothing especially when sharing on social media what you may find funny but may be offensive to another. God is merciful and gracious and we should be as well. I love to be around people who are gracious and full of mercy much more so than someone who is sarcastic and doesn’t seem to realize that they are offensive. We need more graciousness in this world, wouldn’t you agree?
Until next time…Katherine