This isn’t going to be a long post, it’s something that just kinda hit me while doing a lecture with Gordon Conwell this morning after the speaker (Dr McDonough) addressed it: we need to measure our rights (and entitlements, as these often go hand in hand unfortunately) and put them behind/below our love for others.
Now let me unpack that a little, cause what I’m talking about doesn’t have to do with censorship or forfeiting your human rights. I mean applying very practical biblical principles to your life. You have a right to free speech and to express yourself – but if you know what you say is going to cause hurt or sin in your brother or sister, it may be better to lay down that right at that time. Now there are some exceptions here/’within reasons’: if this is in loving rebuke, you need to say something – it will upset, and hopefully convict and lead to growth – it will be the good (hopefully sanctifying) kind of hurt. We need to be able to call out what is sin, and do what we can to help that person rectify and change that behaviour. The other exception would be if this person gets offended by everything (beyond reason) – you don’t be a jerk, but you can’t not say anything.
You have a right to drink. As Christians we are free to drink (though not get drunk or become mastered by it). However, if you have a brother or sister with you who may stumble because they can’t stop once they start drinking (or have had alcoholic’s in their family, or even simply aren’t comfortable with it) – it would be better to lay down that right that time than to give an avenue for them to sin. I know you personally don’t control their actions, but we’re called to look out for our brothers and love our neighbors as ourselves, and if we know what we’re gonna do can cause an issue for them we should probably (again, certain exceptions) not do it. All things are lawful but some aren’t beneficial, and even though it might be for you it may not be for your brother or sister in Christ. At that time it would ultimately be beneficial to lay down that right.
Those are just two examples, and I’m sure you can think of more.
This whole post is coming out of this morning’s lecture, where Dr McDonough made the point that if Jesus hadn’t forfeit His rights none of us would have been saved from God’s just judgement. Jesus set aside His rights and put us first before himself. I know you can say “well that was God’s plan”, but it is still something we can model. If Jesus had acted like we do with our rights (again, where we can very frequently become entitled with them), He wouldn’t have gone to the cross for us. This all boils down to us needing to humble and lower ourselves, something the opposite of what we’re told by the rest of the world (“go get yours son, by whatever means necessary”), and treat others how we like to be treated.
We need to lay this before God. Look to Jesus, and walk with and emulate Him.
I hope this made sense, and pray it was helpful.
God bless my friends.