I want to begin today’s post with these words by St. Paul:
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 (But if some one says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience’ sake— 29 I mean his conscience, not yours—do not eat it.) For why should my liberty be determined by another man’s scruples? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
(1 Cor 10:23-31)
These words seem especially topical as of late. Just because I can do something, or say something, doesn’t mean I necessarily should. Beforehand I need to examine whether or not my actions serve to glorify God.
A similar statement from St. Paul can also be found in his Letter to the Romans:
13 Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. 15 If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what is good to you be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; 18 he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; 21 it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. 23 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Here we can see that what glorifies God is that which builds up our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. We all stumble, we all fall. That is our nature. But all the same we shouldn’t encourage it in others, on the contrary we should do what we can to help them avoid those falls. Sadly, all of this is often easier said than done.
What I think is required is a conscious effort to always be aware of what we are doing, and to always ask what the consequences of our actions will/might be. We can’t simply auto-pilot through life. Nor can we take short-cuts or “the easy way out” by doing things in a hurry- so we can claim we didn’t have time to reflect. I suspect we always are given enough time by God to make the right decision. The real issues is whether we have the desire to do the right thing. Of course, that sort of is the crux of our faith journey, isn’t it?