Thursday, August 4, 2011

Our Responsibilities, Not Our Rights

In commenting on adiaphora, that is, those things that are indifferent or neutral--not inherently good nor bad from Romans 14:13-23, William Barclay writes: "Life must be guided by the principle of love; and when it is, we will think, not so much of our right to do as we like as of our responsibilities to others. We have no right to distress another man's conscience in the things which do not really matter. Christian freedom must never be used as an excuse for rough-riding over the genuine feelings of others."

He continues: "The tragedy is that in so many cases it is little unimportant things which disturb the peace of the brethren, matters of law and procedure and precedent and prestige. A new age would dawn in the Church if we remembered that our rights are far less important than our obligations, if we remembered that, while we possess Christian liberty, it is always an offence to use it as if it conferred upon us the right to grieve the heart and conscience of someone else. Unless a church is a body of people who, in love, consider one another it is not a church at all."

[William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans, Rev. Ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), 190, 193.]

"O Lord, may we--Your Church, Your body--focus upon our responsibilities to You and to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not our 'rights'. Help us by Your Holy Spirit to love one another and so fulfill the law of Christ. Then, and only then, will we experience true freedom, genuine liberty. In Jesus' strong name. Amen."

The Antidote to Worry

"It is hard not to worry, for man is characteristically a creature who looks forward to guess and fear. The only end to that worry is the utter conviction that, whatever happens, God's hand will never cause his child a needless tear. Things will happen that we cannot understand, but if we are sure enough of God's love, we can accept with serenity even those things which wound the heart and baffle the mind."

[William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans, Rev. Ed. (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975), 200.]

"Heavenly Father, please help us all to trust your heart even when we cannot see your hand. Grant us faith to rely fully upon You even when challenging circumstances confront us and suffering smites us. Even when we may not understand "what?", "when?", "where?", "why?", or "how?", help us to rest in the assurance of "Who." Thank You for being the Sovereign Lord who loves Your children beyond what we could ever imagine. Amen."

Law and Gospel

In the context of discussing the Word of God as Law and Gospel, Michael S. Horton, writes: "The law's imperatives tell us what must be done; the gospel's indicatives tell us what God has done." [The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), 138.]