For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.  By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  Romans 14:15

         Having been acquainted with numerous Christian environments that wanted to legislate nearly every part of life, I must say that I am still trying to understand this passage.  Admittedly, if I listened to everyone who had an opinion about every peripheral issue of my life, I’d be frozen in place.  So many have something to say about everything.  Having lived in a fishbowl of some notoriety, your life is often studied by others.  With study comes criticism.  Some is ludicrous, some is ignorant due to lack of information, and some is probably justified.  Sifting through it, and sorting out the hurt feelings that come from others’ comments, is difficult.

         So, am I to adjust my behavior to every person who say they are offended by me?  Or, does Paul mean something different here?  Legalism will always be with us.  So will honest seekers who stumble.

         I believe, for me, the answer lies in considering the one I am offending.  If the spirit of legalism is at work, ruling this person’s life, seeking to encroach upon the true spirit of liberty Jesus died to extend to His children, then I am not obligated to comply.  I want to extend the graces of Christ Jesus to others so why would I take on a yoke that Jesus died to free me from?

         But, if I encounter someone who is honestly seeking Jesus, one who loves the Word and is growing in his faith, but also one who stumbles over a particular thing I’m doing, I should consider his fragile faith and change my behavior.  I am not to destroy what God is building.

         For any of us who have walked out of legalism into the spacious place of grace, this can seem like a step backwards.  Am I not walking again in the bondage I left behind?  It feels like that but it is not like that.  Look, I can’t sort this out without prayer and looking for the nod of my Savior over whether another’s issue with me is a valid one.  If it is, Jesus will give me the grace to consider my brother even though it will take some time for my emotions, damaged by past experience, to catch up.  Legalism will always be a tender spot for any of us who have been beaten up under its umbrella.

Who can sort it out?  Only Your Spirit.  I’m glad You’re in me, teaching me, making hard things clear.  Thank you for the grace to obey when my feelings betray me.  Amen

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