Summary: Our behavior matters, and it should always reflect the unity and hope we have in Christ.
A. What affect do you think your behavior has on those you encounter: a lot, none or a little?
B. We can break this down farther. Does the affect of the behavior change if the person knows you?
C. We can even take it a step farther. Does the affect of the behavior change if the person knows you claim to be a Christian?
D. Take for example the common scene of road rage.
1. You are driving down the road minding your own business and going the speed limit to boot.
2. Someone flies up behind you and rides your bumper until they find a place to pass.
3. As you watch them in your rearview mirror, you begin to feel anger rising up. You imagine things you might like to say to them or do to them. You make plans for a little sign language when they finally pass, and to release the pressure of the anger you mutter a few unmentionables under your breath so the children won’t hear.
4. When they pass, you give the planned sign language and then gasp in shock. You know this person, and what’s worse they know you as a member of First Baptist, a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, an usher, etc.
E. Our behavior does make a difference, and Paul continues to deal with this matter of sensitivity in most of this chapter.
I. Our Behavior Should Reflect Patience With The Spiritually Immature (vv. 1-3)
A. There is no break as we move into chapter fifteen, and Paul continues his theme of trying to understand those who don’t have the same understanding we do as mature believers.
B. The specific topic is the same: eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols and is now being sold for public consumption in the marketplace.
C. For believers who didn’t understand idols were nothing and that eating meat sacrificed to them meant nothing, this was a troubling scenario. They were also troubled by believers who were eating this meat and obviously thinking nothing of it.
D. Should the mature believers stop eating this meat, try to convince the immature believers it was acceptable or just ignore the situation altogether?
E. Paul reminds us our interests are not what should be foremost in the discussion or decision.
1. We may have knowledge a certain attitude is acceptable for believers who are living under the liberty of Christ, but as Paul says, “we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who think these things are wrong.”
2. Our responsibility is to please others rather than ourselves.
3. Now we might ask; “Doesn’t this move us into the category of being people pleasers?”
4. We know we can’t please all the people all the time. Even Jesus was unsuccessful in this.
5. And Paul’s instructions should not be understood to mean we are to try and please all people no matter what.
6. To please some people would involve disobeying God’s instructions.
7. His teaching must be taken in context. He is speaking of harmony among God’s people. We are to do all within our power to live in peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
8. Rather than focusing on self all the time, we should focus on the needs and concerns of others.
F. Christ gives the example.
1. His ministry was first and foremost what the Father wanted him to do.
2. The struggle he went through, even as God’s Son incarnate, is witnessed in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked the Father on several occasions to remove the cup of suffering and death that was soon to come.
3. But he put his interests beneath the Fathers as he said, “Not my will but thine be done.”
4. We must be careful at this point lest we make it sound as if Christ didn’t want to die for our sins. He did but he struggled with the cost he would have to pay to enact the transaction.
5. He was human and struggled with human emotions.
G. Believers are at different levels of maturity. From babes and children to teens and adults, we run the gamut. Combining this with traditions we have been taught-some of which are not biblical, we understand how easy it is for us to disagree but also to do so in an UnChristlike spirit.
H. As we interact, we must remember we are all growing up in Christ, and some are farther along than others.
I. The question is not always whether my behavior is moral and upright but whether it is helping my less mature brother or sister in Christ grow into maturity or destroying their faith?