III. The Discussion over Differences
Every issue within the realm of Christian Liberty is not black and white. There are more factors that must be considered which transcend the normal “sin or not a sin” labels. Therefore, we must leave some room for dialogue. This is an ongoing discussion and search for the correct path when exercising our Christian freedom. But there are also guidelines on how to properly treat one another in our dialogue and even in our disagreements.
1. Be Wise in Your Exercise
This is a general implication of what was previously said. Proverbs calls us to live skillfully (wisely) in life. With this in mind, you must carefully examine your liberty and exercise it skillfully. Sometimes the skillful exercise of a liberty is to not exercise it at all. Furthermore, understand the potential dangers in liberties like smoking, entertainment, and food. Anything good can be abused and turned into an idol or sin. Anything can be flaunted in a way that dishonors the Lord. People may misunderstand and misinterpret your exercise of a certain liberty, so be aware! This is different from living in the “fear of man.” Instead, this is about being aware of the public interpretation of actions, and it is about being careful about your testimony and witness to others.
2. Be Willing to Dialogue with One Another
The willingness to speak about this topic is important. A Christian might have mistaken certain sins for an act of Christian freedom. God uses accountability and dialogue to bring this to light if he or she is in the wrong. A Christian may be exercising certain liberties that are not sin but it may not be the wisest thing for them to do. That person may have every right but it could be weigh them down or distract them in their Christian life. Speaking about these things with brothers and sisters who know us well will help us live a wise life.
Be willing to be corrected. You might be wrong; you might be right. Or, others might be wrong and others might be right. See it from their perspective and try to have them see it from your perspective. Be willing to talk to others in dealing with questionable actions. Have the willingness to interact with each other, but make sure you use exegesis and the Scriptures as the ultimate guide.
3. Be Willing to Give up Your Preferences
Some of us still struggle to give up our preferences for the sake of the brothers, the church, or the lost. It even may be a struggle to sacrifice them for our personal holiness. If this is still a struggle, then you must look to the example of Christ.
The selflessness of Christ was an example for all of us. Christ loved his brothers through his willingness to give up His exalted rights and even His life (Phil 2:6, 8). If that was the case for Christ, then surely we can give up our “meat sacrificed to idols” for the benefit of our brothers.
Your attitude towards liberty is more important than you think, because it says a lot about your comprehension of the Gospel. Jesus Christ set aside His preference to be with the Father, so that He would be a Servant who would give Himself up for our sins. Dwell upon this truth before you cling to your liberty like a cat clings to a couch. This is about you exemplifying the Gospel in how you practice your Christian freedom in Jesus Christ. It was never about holding on to your liberty as a way of pleasing yourself. It’s always been about using your liberated life as a pointer to the Savior.