A few years ago, my husband andI were invited to a birthday party. Once we got there, mingled for a bit and found a comfortable place to hang out, it started. People started asking us if we wanted a drink.
They were just being friendly, I know that for a fact. But what they didn’t know was that we don’t drink. Not for religious reasons, political reasons or even for cultural reasons. For personal reasons, (and it’s completely different for me than it is for my husband) we prefer not to drink.
We don’t mind when people around us drink, and we are still able to have fun even when we are sober. It’s just something that is important to us.
Here’s the thing: For whatever reason, people are offended that we prefer water or soda over alcohol. We are always teased and pestered in public gatherings. We are asked again and again “Oh come on, just one?!?!”
But for us, just one is too much. It’s personal and we don’t project or expect anyone else to follow this conviction. But I think it’s a good example of a bigger conversation we as Christians need to consider.
How do you answer a question about your personal convictions without offending the person asking you?
Let me explain….
What I’ve discovered over the years is that often times when I’m made to feel uncomfortable for the choices I make, it’s often got nothing to do with myself, but has more to do with the person asking me. They may be wrestling with something, and seeing me completely sober might make them feel like a spotlight is glaring on their shortcomings. This isn’t always the case, but it serves as an important reminder of something God tells us in His Word.
We can live by our own convictions and knowledge, but we must also be aware of how others view what we do, and the message that it might send.
In 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Paul refers to people Christians who chose not to eat meat that pagans used in idol sacrifices. Eating the meat reminded them of the idols that they used to worship. The meat was what they associated with the sin. So while there is no sin in eating meat, they knew that eating that meat might lead bring them trouble. Now pretend their best friend is sitting across from them at a restaurant, eating the meat that they see as bad for them. It may be tempting for them to shame that person for eating meat. Then the person eating the meat might also get defensive and shame them into eating the meat that they feel conflicted about eating.
Do you see how this works?
1 Corinthians 8: 9 says “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”
We need to be sensitive to those around us. We may not always agree, but try to understand that it’s not personal. My decision to not drink isn’t to offend my friends who do. Instead of taking it personally, we need to remember that each of us has a different story, a different perspective and a different life. The Spirit is working with each of us in different ways in different timing.
So don’t shame each other, but instead we need to encourage one another. We need to ask and understand in a loving way WHY they have the convictions, and then honor them and hold that person accountable.
1 Corinthians 8:13
When we can recognize what deeply rooted personal convictions are held to by someone we love, we can learn how to love that person even better. For me, alcohol brings with it pain and turmoil. It reminds me of people and things that hurt me. So I have no desire to partake. When you take the focus off of yourself and your feelings, you may just see a brand new way to love this person God has placed in your life. It’s not always alcohol. For one person they may have to avoid certain places which bring temptation to do things they don’t want to do. It may be avoiding people that bring out traits in them that are less than honorable. It can be a positive conviction like creating to a routine because that routine keeps you grounded. Whatever it may be, we need to honor the personal Spirit-guided convictions of those that God places in our lives. It looks different for everyone, because God is meeting us all in a different place…which is a great thing!
Let’s take a look outside of ourselves and into the heart of the person who makes us feel a little uncomfortable or offended. Let’s learn from where God is working in them and honor their progress. We can all learn so much from each other, and what a gift that is ♥️