Cautious Exercise (Romans 14:20-23)

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Romans 14:22, KJV 1900)

I knew a young pastor who had no qualm with regards to drinking a beer once in a while. Even though I abstain, I had no problem with his drinking in moderation. However, this young pastor kept flaunting his liberty in front of everyone. I wondered why he always had to make such an issue of his freedom to drink alcohol. I think I have not figured this out.

I believe he kept bringing it up and flaunting it in front of people because he was unsure about it himself. Here we see two major problem s in this young pastor’s actions. First, he was flaunting this without any regard for those who he was influencing. Paul in dealing with disputable areas states that in those areas, one should keep his freedom between himself and God. I believe the point here is not to adversely influence others who may have opposing convictions in that area by our observed actions.

Secondly, if one is uncertain regarding a disputable area and participates anyway, he is crossing the line of sin. Why do I say this? It is because that is what Paul states. “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23, KJV 1900) These are pretty strong words, but they are absolutely true. As a pastor, people often have come to me and asked if it was proper for them to participate in one of the many disputable areas. I would talk to them from this passage in Romans. I would always caution them that until they are settled in their own minds, they should abstain. Because if they are unsettled, they are not able to participate by faith. And anything that is done not of faith is sin.

Now, one of the major considerations that we must have as ministers of God’s grace, is our influence on others in the body of Christ. Having been saved at the age of 32 and having lived on the worldly side of the street, so to speak, I did indulge in much alcoholic drink. As I considered the Lord’s calling on my life, I came to the conclusion that even though I might have liberty in that area (in moderation), I could not risk the negative influence I would have on others who might struggle in this area. Thus, for their sake, I choose not to partake in alcoholic beverages. I believe all ministers must consider these things in the same manner.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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