Freedom and Responsibility
By Clayton Adams Freedom is the ability to think, say and do what one desires. Responsibility without freedom is slavery. Freedom without responsibility is recklessness at best and anarchy at its worst. Our nation is at the doorstep of anarchy.
How we arrived at the doorstep of anarchy is not surprising. History has many examples of nations and cultures that crumbled because of freedom without responsibility.
The Roman Empire is just one of many examples. Having conquered most of the then known world, Rome's leaders were content to satisfy their own lusts and quests for pleasure. We can learn from the Romans, who had freedom but disregarded their responsibility. The Bible speaks much about freedom and responsibility.
The apostle Paul dealt with this issue of individual freedom in Christ and our responsibility for each other in his letters to the Corinthian church and others. Paul rightly connects our personal freedom with our responsibility for others.
The First principle; “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) In Christ we have freedom, but this freedom comes with responsibility. If what I say or do does not “build up” or is not “helpful” to others, I shouldn't exercise my freedom. My concern and responsibilities to others exceed the exercising of my freedom and my “rights”.
The second principle states; “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:13) I am (and so are you) responsible for others. We have freedom in Christ but we also have responsibility to others with what we use our “freedom” for. My freedoms end when they become a “stumbling block” to someone who is weak in his or her faith.
The third principle states; “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:33) As a Christian, I am to live my life in such a way that it brings praise, glory and honor to God and that I encourage others in their faith. My concern for others requires that, if what I do harm's, causes them to stumble or fall away, I must not use my freedom.
I acknowledge that I am not as good as others think. As James wrote, “we all stumble in many ways.” (James 3:2) Much like the arcade game Whack-AMole, selfishness lifts its ugly head often and at the worst of times. Paul wrote about his own struggle in this area; “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Romans 7:19) Though I could do anything I wanted (so long as its permissible by Christ), not all that I could or even want to do is good or beneficial for others. My concern for others must take priority over my own personal freedoms.
I stumble enough in my own life and faith, why would I ever want to cause someone else to stumble? I strive to live my life for others – so they are drawn to Christ. Christ lived and died for the benefit of others – it is He who is my example, though I fail, He is the one I follow.
Clayton Adams is pastor at Earle First Assembly of God. You can e- mail him at cpalaa@ yahoo. com, or find Earle First Assembly on Facebook.
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