Psalms 69:6 (NLT) Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me, O Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated, O God of Israel.
The way we live as believers affects our spiritual family. We cause others to esteem them highly or to look down on them. Our attitudes, conduct, character, words, principles, and actions go farther and wider, and affect more people than we realize. The last thing we want to do is to give our Lord’s name and our fellow believers a bad rap.
When God calls us to be holy, it is not a figure of speech; He is serious about it; He means business. It is not a suggestion; it is not a joke. Him being holy and perfect is literally true. That’s His basis in calling us to be holy as well. “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NLT); “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16)—that’s what God’s Word says. I would say His call for us to be holy is literally true as well. “…work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). That’s a huge implication on us personally, but we realize: it far transcends us.
God doesn’t want us to have even a tinge of wickedness in our hearts. He knows it spreads and it spreads rapidly. It gets bigger; it becomes deadlier; and it destroys more people. We must seriously consider this. We don’t take this lightly. We love God so much; we don’t want to cause others to dishonor Him. We love each other so much; we don’t want to cause others to slander them. We don’t want to cause them any humiliation or harm. We bring light, not darkness; we shine brightly so that God will be glorified. We don’t want to pull our brothers and sisters down to embarrassment; we want to help them soar higher.
We don’t deny our imperfection; we still sin—that’s an obvious fact. But we also don’t tweak God’s Word to accommodate that. This is not a case of either-or; it’s both. Let’s settle that. Now, let’s live in a way that’s a blessing to the Lord and His family.
Romans 14:15 (NIV) 15If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
We’re aware that fellow believers can still be distressed. And the cause of each other’s distress can be each other. To be such a cause equates to being unloving in our actions. The mandate is clear: our freedom in Jesus ought to not cause anyone to be distressed or destroyed. Our souls are way more precious than any food, drink, or anything this world has to offer.
Our Lord Jesus has set us free, and whoever He sets free is truly free. It is for freedom itself that He set us free; that speaks of the great value of freedom. But there’s something of greater worth than that: souls. God loves each of us tremendously, that explains the rationality of our precious Lord Jesus willingly leaving the glories of heaven to seek and to save the lost by sacrificing His life as a ransom payment for us.
We as His children understand His indescribable love—not totally—but enough to know that it’s great beyond measure. Having this set in our hearts and minds, we’re willing to sacrifice our freedom to protect others, especially our spiritual family. Sure, everything is permissible for us, but we understand that not everything is beneficial. Sure, we’re free to do anything, but we’re aware that there are things that can be destructive instead of constructive; there are things that can get us enslaved or addicted, there are things that can cause others to stumble, and there are things that just plainly don’t glorify God. Having the heart of God for His children, we willingly submit our liberty to love if a choice has to be made.
Matthew 17:27 (KJV) 27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Even our Lord Jesus wanted not to offend anyone. Even when He had to sacrifice His right, even when they had to exert extra effort, even when they had to spend what they did not have to, Jesus willingly subjected Himself to all those just so that they don’t offend the authorities. He lived a perfect life; He cared for His Name, He needed to conduct Himself perfectly well, but He didn’t do what He did just for all those; He truthfully cared for others.
We as His people do the same. We exist for the pleasure of our God. He deserves more than all we are, all we have, and all we can give Him. The obvious truth is: we really can’t give Him anything. But He gives us that wonderful privilege of still “giving” and “offering” to Him. We want to follow His steps. This is one of those. Yes, we have rights and privileges. We can impose on them, but there’s a better way.
It’s best to live in such a way that we don’t become a stumblingblock to others. But there’s more. We live in such a way that we don’t offend others. This isn’t easy, but it’s in itself a privilege. And it isn’t really hard for God’s children who lives empowered by the Creator Himself to do all we ought to do. It takes much from us, but we’re willing. It’s a pleasure to work more, spend more, and sacrifice more. Why, because it’s our greatest pleasure to live for the pleasure of our Beloved.