There must be times that we look like bulls in a China Shop to God. Using grace as our cover we can be insensitive to the things that offend God. We should be learning how to avoid sin as we grow not learning how to excuse it. We are constantly using slogans like "I'm not perfect, only forgiven" in a way to avoid accountability for our actions. This is not maturity but a lack of it.
The more we grow in the Spirit the more aware we are of God's holiness and the more sensitive we become to our environment and the people in it. With knowledge of the Word we begin to learn of the freedom we have in many things but especially freedom from the traditions of man. However, with such knowledge also comes the mature awareness we have to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We become more sensitive to where they are in their walk and they become important to us. The closer we become with Jesus the greater our love for people increases. The last thing we would want to do is cause them to act against their conscience because of the freedom we enjoy. The Word of God says:
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. (1 Corinthians 8:9)
When Paul writes "to the weak" he is referring to those who lack knowledge and maturity. This touches on what I was writing yesterday, about knowledge puffing up but love builds up. Love will always be of greater importance than knowledge and knowledge should never be applied without love. Allow me to give you an example about rights that you can apply in spiritual matters.
A new tenant has moved into an apartment in my building. It is the first time he has moved out of his parent's home so he is learning a lot but also making a lot of mistakes. His rent does not include a parking space but he has often been parking in one of my two spots. I don't have a car but borrow a car from time to time as well as various people using them when they come by to see me. I also rent out one spot to a friend with a mini bus. The young man comes across like a bull in a China Shop with his attitude of parking wherever he likes. He is a nice guy but for some reason this is an issue. He is now offended by my constant reminding him not to park in those spots. I can stand by my rights and let him suffer in his thoughts or, in love, I can set aside my rights and befriend the young man. Which choice do we think would better honour our God? (It was a friend who had to point this out to me.)
Now apply this to the spiritual freedoms we learn we enjoy as our knowledge of the Word increases. If we insist on our rights regardless of who is around it indicates that our knowledge is great but our love is weak. Offending the conscience of a brother or sister in Christ is not a light matter. The Word says:
So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:11-12)
Some of you are still too young in your knowledge to understand what freedoms we have gained through Jesus and that is okay. You are still young in your faith but you are learning. However, the thing you can understand is that with maturity comes the understanding that love is applied before anything else. We do not stand on our rights in Jesus but instead we operate in the love he has shown us. It is because he showed us how to love with a quality love that we set aside our freedom for the sake of those who may be led into sin by our actions. Love never fails and if we do fail in this it is a good indication that we have more growing to do.
Philippians 2 reminds us that we must have the same attitude of Jesus. You want to talk about freedom and rights, Jesus had them all. Yet, out of love he set aside all his freedoms and privileges and took on the role of a servant for us. You may learn great and wonderful things in the Word but you need maturity to to apply this truth to your life.
Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. Let us love one another as Jesus has loved us.