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Adding the Third Crayon

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
November 27, 2023 12:00 am

Adding the Third Crayon

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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November 27, 2023 12:00 am

Our Christian liberty should never be used to offend a weaker brother. But does that mean we have to limit our own freedom because of someone else’s weakness? This is a big question in our day and age and one that many Christians have neglected to answer Biblically. Listen to the full-length version or read Stephen's manuscript here:


Paul is saying, don't intentionally do something in your own rights, and an unsuspecting brother sees that, watches that, they're younger than you, they might even admire or respect you, and the very roots of their faith are unsettled. Paul is saying, don't do something that might spring a trap and catch an unsuspecting believer and bring about confusion and great harm.

Protect them. Our role is to remove debris from the path of those who come after us in the faith. As a Christian, God wants you to avoid causing other people unnecessary offense. He also expects that you don't cause others to stumble in their faith.

Those two principles are our theme today here on Wisdom for the Heart. We all know that sometimes things are not as black and white as we want. There are shades of gray when it comes to our convictions. Two Christians can hold different convictions on specific topics. Your Bible teacher, Stephen Davey, is helping you understand how to deal with those gray matters in a way that brings honor to God.

Here's Stephen. I have learned that there are 3.8 million Americans afflicted by a physical malady known as color blindness. Color blindness is a physical disability that affects nearly one in twelve people, which gives you pause if you develop websites or design clothing or even maps, which I discovered is a particularly difficult thing for those who suffer with this.

It seems that this malady doesn't like men very much. While only one in two hundred women are colorblind, one out of ten men are, which probably explains the way we dress like we do at times. On the one hand, a healthy church and believer is completely, utterly colorblind. The bride of Christ is a world of color, is it not?

The saints come in all colors, black, brown, yellow, cream, tan, and for the rest of us with Irish blood, just sort of a reddish pink. On the other hand, a healthy, maturing believer in church is able to distinguish, especially between two colors, black and white. While most people see the world in black and white, he learns to distinguish a third color that makes up most of the world around him, and he's sensitive to that color. He's able to spot it. He can mark it.

He takes note of it. The third color is gray. I've gotten the idea in our study through Romans 14 that in a very practical way, Paul is exhorting the church in a way to add a third crayon to our boxes of coloring sticks.

Make sure we have the color gray. And he is telling us why it's so important and how to learn to color with it. So far, we've covered the first 12 verses of this chapter as Paul has clearly stated that in the old era, the old economy or dispensation of the law, things were much clearer under the rule of law. Black and white, now in this dispensation of grace, all of a sudden, so many things went from black and white to gray. He will deliver as he focuses our attention in these next verses on what we could call nine principles of balanced living.

The first principle of the nine is this, the principle of protection, the principle of protection. Look at verse 13, just the first phrase. Therefore, now Paul is summarizing, it's his favorite word as he begins to apply truth he's taught. Therefore, let us not judge one another, key word here, anymore, which implies what?

What was the Roman church involved in doing? Judging one another. Paul says, what do you say, as it were, let's decide to stop judging one another.

Let's make a resolution, a pledge, as it were, to add this color to our box, colored gray. By the way, there's a wonderful play on words that's lost on the English reader in that first phrase. He uses the same Greek word twice, the same verb, krino, which means basically to judge. The first part of the phrase, Paul writes, let us not judge one another. And again, this goes back to our former discussion earlier about that judgmentalism, which he's already addressed.

In the second part of the phrase, Paul uses the same verb again, only with a different connotation. He says, but rather determine this, judge this way. There's a vast difference between judgmentalism and using sound judgment, which is the difference in his play on words. Don't pass judgment on fellow believers, but use good sound judgment as relates to your own life.

Not like the judgmental person Jesus Christ referred to when he challenged his disciples to not be like the man who judged everyone. I'm quoting from Luke 6, where he said, brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye. When you yourself, the Lord said, do not see the log that is in your own eye, you hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck, the splinter that is in your brother's eye.

Imagine some guy literally playing this out. He comes to church, he has a log sticking out of the front of his face. In fact, the Lord uses a word that refers to the beams used to construct roofs in this day. Here comes a man with a roof beam, singing out and he somehow gets past the greeters. He goes down the hallway and every time he moves his head, he's knocking people over like a sickle and he sees somebody and he says, hey, I see a speck in your eye that needs to be dealt with. Can you imagine the ridiculousness of that scene?

That one who would say, I happen to be an expert, a splinter spotter. It's my spiritual gift. Nevermind the big log sticking out of my face. Here, let me help you.

Paul says, let's just make a pledge, shall we? Let's help one another out. In fact, the implication of that text which we don't want to overlook is that we all have specks in our eyes.

We all have blind spots. So let's help each other out. It's difficult enough as we pursue life headed toward the bema, right? Let's help. How, Paul?

How do we help? Paul writes in the last part of verse 13, determine this, not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's way. Paul says, don't do one of either two things. Put an obstacle in your brother's way, which would cause him to stumble in his growth and faith, or a stumbling block, which is even more serious. In fact, they are two different words with two very different actions. The first action is an innocent hindrance. That's the idea behind the word obstacle.

The second action is an intentional hurt. That's the idea behind stumbling block. Either way, Paul says, stay alert so that you don't innocently hinder your weaker brother's faith in those areas where the Bible is, for the most part, silent. Give them time and space to learn. Don't intentionally hurt your brother's weak, uncertain, perhaps newfound infant steps as they walk.

They're learning how to make their way through the fog. This is the categorical principle of protection. Protect them.

If you don't, Paul will write later, you're not walking in love. Let's go back and take a closer look at those two actions where we fail to protect our weaker brother. You could circle the first word. It's the word obstacle. This is something you didn't necessarily do on purpose. It was unintentional.

It was unplanned. You did something. You went somewhere.

You said something, and the younger brother saw it, and it became to them an obstacle. The word is proscama, which carries the idea of bumping into something or stumbling. The word can be translated to stumble against. Have you ever walked through a room in the dark in your home? You know the path to the bedroom door. The lights are out, but you know, and somebody's inadvertently left something in the way, didn't let you know. You stepped on that plastic Barbie convertible, and man, it did some damage. You stumbled, did a little spin, took a little ride.

That's the idea here. Your younger brother or sister just stubbed their toe. They're walking. They think they know the path, and you did something that inadvertently left some debris in the path, and they stumbled. The second word sounds like what I've just defined, but it's different. It is the word stumbling block, but it's a much more serious matter.

While an obstacle might have been an innocent hindrance, a stumbling block is an intentional injury. It comes from the Greek word skandalon. It gives us our word scandal. The word alone sounds frightening, terrible, dangerous, and it is. In Greece, this word was used for the trigger on a trap.

It would be that part of the trap that could be pulled, and the trap would be sprung and the animal caught. That's the word here. Paul is saying, don't do something that will act like that trigger. Don't intentionally do something. In your own rights, I don't care.

And an unsuspecting brother sees that, watches that, they're younger than you, they might even admire or respect you, and that just completely blows them away. The very roots of their faith are unsettled. Paul is saying, don't do something that might spring a trap and catch an unsuspecting believer and bring about confusion and great harm.

Protect them. Our role is to remove debris from the path of those who come after us in the faith, not add to the difficulty of walking. They're not familiar with the paths of liberty and grace. It can be confusing enough for those who are older in their faith, much less to those who are new to this thing called grace. One missionary's experience about how one act of Christian liberty in his country literally act as a trap for younger believers and bring doctrinal confusion. It all revolves around the manger scene at Christmastime. In the area where he serves overseas, the people are heavily influenced by Roman Catholic belief.

Some of it would be belief that we would have, such as the virgin birth of Christ, certainly biblical, but then a lot of other things are thrown into the mix. Displaying a manger scene at Christmastime is the practice of nearly everyone in this area. Businesses display them and homes display them alike. But they follow the priest's tradition that has developed over the years into becoming what is nothing less than idolatry. Shortly before Christmastime, people take the pieces of their manger scene to be blessed by the priest. They have to stand in line for hours and hours waiting until they arrive before the priest with their figurines. And the priest will do the sign of the cross over them, and then he will sprinkle on them what he believes is holy water. It's only after their manger pieces are blessed by the priest that they will then display them publicly in their homes and businesses. In fact, the figurine of baby Jesus is not placed into the scene until right at midnight on Christmas Eve where he is supposedly reborn in some mystical way. The people believe that they can pray to these figurines and these figurines bring blessing into their home. The missionary went on to explain, as you can well imagine, the problem.

A believer comes to faith in Christ alone, apart from merit and tradition and ritual, and they walk away from all of that superstition. But as it sometimes happens, this missionary said, they will go to the home of another older believer who knows that all of that was make-believe anyway, and it didn't matter. And they want a manger scene. They're used to it. They like it.

They probably have several. And so they display it. And the younger believer sees that display, and it immediately causes great confusion in their hearts and their minds. They have always associated manger scenes with superstition. And they are immediately thrown into mental anguish. Sometimes it comes out of their mouths with, how can you do something that associates with that idolatry? Are you praying to those figurines too?

I thought we left all that. Or maybe worse yet, they keep it inside. And their faith is shaken. That's the problem in Rome. A younger believer goes over to an older believer's home for dinner and, this is excellent ribeye.

Where did you get this? Well, I bought it today from the temple priest. You mean you're eating? How can you associate with idolatry and false religion? Are you praying to the idols before Rome? The meat was offered too. And immediately there is that association that brings deep trouble to their faith. The missionaries said, our liberty needed to be evaluated in light of our younger brother's consciences in Christ.

That's the principle, which I fear we never think about, the principle of protection. Paul adds to this principle a personal testimony. Look at verse 14. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself. But to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. You read a verse like that and you think, you know, this great thing is great. That means nothing's wrong. I can do anything I want to do as long as I don't feel like it's wrong or my conscience is in trouble.

So I like this new plan. Paul says, not exactly. The word unclean translated koinos or common is the word used to describe the Greek of the New Testament period, koinai, Greek, the common language of the day.

The Jewish community adopted that word and they used that word koinos to refer to things they believed were secular, maybe even unsavory or perhaps even unspiritual. So when Paul says that he doesn't personally think anything was common or unspiritual, he's obviously not speaking of God's moral law where there are many things that are unspiritual. He's thinking here within this context of ceremonial law, areas of gray, laws of diet and ritual, preferences of Sabbaths and seasons. In other words, when it comes to matters where the Bible doesn't command or allow or prohibit, Paul is saying that it isn't unsavory or savory. It isn't out of bounds or acceptable unless your conscience believes it one way or the other. Okay, then back to what I said earlier. This gray thing's kind of great. I can do whatever I want to do as long as I don't think it's wrong.

No. Paul is saying that although he knew there was nothing unsavory about it, it wasn't what he thought about it that mattered. It's what his brother thought about it that mattered. In other words, even though we have the right to do anything we want to do so long as our consciences remain pure, we could come to a point where we might restrict our rights. We might limit our liberty. I want you to know that I as your pastor, teacher and our staff and our leaders, our elders and deacons live with this principle of protection.

There are young believers to protect. We want to be careful of those associations within the world of gray that might cause them to stumble. We live with that in mind. Maybe you say that's not fair. I know the truth.

There isn't anything wrong with what I'm doing. I'm right. I'm right. Ladies and gentlemen, Paul is trying to tell us that when it comes to gray matters, there is something more important than being right. Would you notice, Paul says in verse 15, here's what matters. If because of your food, generally speaking, your lifestyle in these gray areas, if because of it your brother is hurt, notice what he says. So what? They'll get over it. You're right.

Oh, I'm sorry. That's the way I might wish it were written. Paul says, for if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love, do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. I like that phrase, for him whom Christ died. Why put that in there? I think he put that in there because it's as if to say, look at what Christ sacrificed to pardon your brother. What will you sacrifice to protect your brother?

That's his point. This is a much heavier burden, isn't it? This issue of Christian liberty takes on a whole new personality of its own. It's so much easier to follow the rule of law. Just tell me what's black and white, not the rule of love which might include the third color, gray.

Much more challenging. The wonder Martin Luther, the reformer, wrote a treatise he entitled, On the Freedom of a Christian Man. And he introduced his treatise with two sentences back to back in which he said these two statements. A Christian man is a most free lord of all, subject to no one. A Christian man is a servant of all, subject to everyone.

How true. Ladies and gentlemen, if you're not living in the tension of that, you probably aren't living with the principle of protection. You go back to the beginning of verse 15 where Paul tells us not to hurt our brother.

That word is the word grieved. It could be by a passing remark about their immaturity. It could be by acting superior around them.

We know the truth. You'll grow up. Or by making fun of them and their views. But I will add, the word hurt is not a matter of being slightly miffed. Having your feelings just slightly hurt over some slight thing. This word actually refers to being deeply, deeply grieved. It's the same word used of grieving the Holy Spirit by sinning. Ephesians 4.30. It's used to describe Peter's emotions as the Lord asked him three times, Do you love me, Peter? And the text says Peter was grieved.

This is deep grieve, deep hurt. Furthermore, the word Paul uses when he writes here in verse 15, Do not destroy him, adds to that. This is a word that refers to utter ruin.

Not spiritual being, but your spiritual well-being. This doesn't mean that because of you now a weaker brother is going to be eternally damned. But it does mean that because of you and your carelessness, it means that they are spiritually devastated. Their faith is shaken.

They're now more confused than ever. Now, maybe at this point you would be thinking, No, wait a second. Does all this mean that my brother's weakness in faith is going to determine my lifestyle? Are you saying that I have to subscribe to my weaker brother's views? Are you telling me that I have to limit the enjoyment of my knowledge of grace to his ignorance? Where's the end of that?

Those are great questions that reveal the difficulty of this, and we'll work through it over the course of these weeks. But let me answer them today briefly by giving a warning to both sides, to the weak or young in the Lord and to the strong. First, a warning to the weak. If you hear yourself going around saying things like these to other believers, you shouldn't do that. That offends me. That hurts my feelings. You shouldn't go there.

It didn't write for me. You shouldn't do it either. Don't act like that. That hurts me as a believer. And Paul said, If you're hurting me, then you're supposed to stop it. So stop it.

My friend, you are tipping your hand. You are as good as admitting out loud that growth is needed in your life. So hear yourself and accept that challenge in this difficult arena. Dig into the Word.

Test your views with the Scriptures. Struggle through these issues of grace. It isn't easy.

We're all in this together, ladies and gentlemen. But learn to color with that third color. Add it to your crayon box.

Make sure that it's wearing down right along with the black and the white. You're going to need it. A warning to the strong. If you're in the habit of saying things like, I have the right to do that as a Christian.

Case closed. Or I'll debate anybody regarding my liberty in this area. I dare anybody to tell me out of line, I've got a verse. Wait till I give it to you. Or anybody who thinks that I'm wrong for doing this is just a weaker brother.

They need to grow up and I'll tell them, grow up. You're tipping your hand too. You're not walking in love. You're not giving any thought to this principle of protection.

You're not thinking enough of others. I read not long ago that when Harry Truman became president, he worried about losing touch with the common American. And so he would often go on walks just to hang around a few of them. One evening, Truman decided to take a walk down to the Memorial Bridge on the Potomac River. He became curious about the mechanism that raised and lowered that middle span of the bridge.

And he actually made it across by climbing through the catwalks and through the inner workings of that bridge, having a wonderful time exploring that bridge, if you could imagine it. Suddenly, he came upon the bridge operator who was sitting there on the curb, eating his dinner out of his tin pail. The man showed absolutely no surprise when he looked up and saw the President of the United States.

He just swallowed his food. He wiped his mouth and smiled and said, you know, Mr. President, I was just thinking about you. Truman said that that one greeting was his favorite of all time.

He loved that one more than any other he had ever been given. I think the Apostle Paul is saying something similar. And whatever we do is, as we work our way through life, should another believer come across our path unexpectedly, maybe we don't even know it, but all of a sudden they're there and we become aware that they're watching, that we could say to them, you know, I was just thinking about you. The way I'm living and the way I'm acting, what I'm choosing to do or not do, I want you to know a lot of it has to do with the fact that you are on my mind.

I have you in mind. You see, ladies and gentlemen, living the Christian life is much like Dr. Hughes wrote, like walking a tightrope. And as you walk the rope, it's difficult, isn't it? Full of challenges and dangers and decisions, this tightrope of grace. You have in your hand that balancing pole and on one end is Christian freedom and on the other is responsibility for my brothers and sisters in Christ. On one end is liberty. And don't forget, on the other end is love.

Balancing liberty and love is an essential principle in dealing correctly with the gray matters of life. I trust that Stephen's message today has helped you understand this, and I hope you'll apply what you've learned today. You've tuned in to Wisdom for the Heart.

Today's sermon by Stephen Davey was entitled, Adding the Third Crayon. If you'd like to listen again or read this message, there's information on how you can do that on our website, Our listeners are very important to us. Stephen describes this ministry as being empowered by your prayers and enabled by your support.

Please consider making a donation when you visit our site. We have a resource to help you be intentional each day as you spend some focused time with God. It's a magazine we call Heart to Heart. It's a resource we developed to thank our partners, and we'd like to send you the next three issues as our gift to you. Stephen deals with a different topic each month and helps you better understand what the Bible says and how it applies directly to your life. For example, some past topics have included such things as how to forge friendships. What can we know about angels, demons, and the spirit world?

How can we have a biblically based marriage? The daily devotional guide will help you spend some quiet, peaceful time with God each day. Learn more at forward slash magazine. You can also call us at 866-48-bible or 866-482-4253. I hope we hear from you today. I'm Scott Wiley. I hope your day is filled with wisdom and that you'll join us again here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-27 00:10:29 / 2023-11-27 00:20:32 / 10

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