ROMANS 14:19 - So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
We are free in Christ. Free from sin and death. Free from legalistic rule-keeping. But we are not free from responsibility – and part of our responsibility is to nurture those who are younger and weaker in the faith, even at the cost of our own personal liberty. My friend Johnny Baker tells a story that illustrates this beautifully. Johnny was an all-American football player for Mississippi State who went on to play for the Houston Oilers. One Saturday Mississippi State played, and defeated, the University of Houston, which was no small accomplishment. Some alumni at the game passed out cigars to the winning team, and Johnny stuck his in his pocket during the trip home.
The next day, back in Meridian, Johnny was sitting on the front porch at his folk’s house, by himself. He felt in his pocket, and noticed the cigar, opened it, and put it in his mouth. Johnny didn’t smoke, but he said he sort of shifted it around in his mouth, and thought about that big win the day before. In a little while, a young boy walked up to the porch. “How ‘ya doin’?” Johnny said. “Come on up here and sit by me a minute.” And the boy climbed up to sit next to his big, football-playing neighbor. Johnny and the boy began to talk, and he said in a few minutes, he noticed the boy had a stick in his mouth. Then he remembered the cigar in his. Johnny talked a little more, then reached up, took the cigar out of his mouth, broke it in half, threw it down, and said, “You know, I think I’ll quit smoking.” The boy took the stick out of his mouth, broke it, threw it down and said, “Yeah. Me, too.” Our liberty in Christ extends only as far as it does not cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble. When it does, responsibility supersedes freedom.