Jason Silver | Pastor and Author
Please take the time to read the whole Bible passage below as it the basis to what I’m about to say…
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause a brother to fall. 22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. 15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not just please ourselves. NIV
Today’s topic is this: Christians drinking alcohol in moderation. And just so we’re clear, in this blog, I am not trying to necessarily defend or make a case for alcohol itself, as I am making a case for what the Bible ACTUALLY says about it. Not belief systems based on religious traditions, and legalism disguised as “Holiness”.
There are generally two stances a local Church can take on this topic:
- We don’t taste, we don’t touch, and we don’t talk about it.
- If your convictions between you and God allow you, then partake “in moderation” “in love” using WISDOM. (this is where we tend to blow it… not using wisdom)
I concede from the scriptures that number two is a more biblical approach. And if any of you know me, I am all about striving to live like what the Bible says, and teach others to do the same. However I know that what I teach can be interpreted differently then what I originally intended.
So why number two again? Because it really is the most scriptural approach. As I grew up in many Churches that took the number one approach of “We don’t taste, we don’t touch, and we don’t talk about it.” There were many times that I saw a dangerous curiosity forming in many of our younger generation. And I include myself in that group at that time. I call it the “forbidden fruit syndrome”. And that is, if you forbid someone to do something, or to have something, without giving them a loving and honest reason why, it makes them want that thing even more! It’s simple, if you try to hide something from someone; it causes them to want to know even more.
Moving on…. Paul says in Colossians 2:16, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink… then in Colossians 2:20-23 “…for if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations — 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Now if the Apostle Paul wrote about the handling of food and drink in the Bible, I think we should discuss it too? It’s like if I were to say to you, “Yeah there’s certain things in the Bible that we just don’t talk about.” You’d be like “What?!” Yet that’s exactly what I find a lot of Churches still do.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” BUT I will not be mastered by anything. If Paul followed this principle of living the Christian life, shouldn’t we?
I once heard a Pastor say, referring to the drinking of wine, that “We Christians; whom our consciences allow, should be the ones setting the example of what is moderation and self-control, even as Jesus Himself did. And we know that Jesus drank wine, because He said He did.”
So let’s look at the passage we read at the beginning in a little more detail… Paul starts out with “the weak in faith”. In our day it would be those that would feel in their convictions that they shouldn’t have wine at all. Paul tells us “do not judge them.” And then he shares a “key” point, “The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does,” The point here is keep your convictions personal. If you know someone who doesn’t drink wine, don’t judge them as not having enough faith. And if you don’t drink wine, but know someone who does, do not judge them for doing so. The only exception is if they are drinking immoderately and getting drunk, then say something, not for the purpose of passing judgment, but because you love them!
When it comes right down to it, we all need to look out for one another! We must remember that God is our judge, we are not called to judge one another, we are called to love one another. Jesus said, “By this they will know you are my disciples.” In verse 15 Paul says, “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.” We must realize that the context of this is “before your brother”. If you eat or drink what offends your brother in front of him, all because you have a “right” then you are choosing your “right” over your love for your brother. Paul says… DON’T DO THIS!
Wisdom can direct us in this. If “so and so” is going to be at a certain place that has a problem with something you do, then don’t do it before them. THAT IS LOVE! Even if they come to your home, don’t do it, there are many other times that they’re not there (in your home) that you can do your thing freely anyways…right?
In verse 13 Paul says, “…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. So just settle it in your mind. If you don’t know what someone thinks about it, then ask, “Are you okay if I have a beer, or a glass of wine?” If people say, “Not really.” Then say, “Hey no problem.” And they will respect you for honoring them! Paul then says in Verse 19 in an ultimate context, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to a mutual building up.” So in other words, let’s do our best to do what in the best way possible benefits everyone. Folks if we love one another through this… it is possible!
Then Paul says that the best thing is, “…whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. So as much as you can, don’t advertise what you believe about this, keep it to yourself, use your freedom in your own home, and or with other’s whom you KNOW (wisdom) are of the same conviction. Then Paul gives us the ultimate goal of it all in verse 15! “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not just please ourselves.” It really is all about LOVE!
As a Pastor, it is genuinely my heart to lead in a way that expresses our freedom in Christ ruled by the fruit of the Spirit of self control and love. I also want to make sure you that people are equipped to live by these principles to do with food and drink, in the way that the Apostle Paul has described to us. Before God, this truly is my heart. We all need to learn to walk this road of Moderation, Wisdom, and Love in All things!
Just a final thought and some scriptures I would like to mention and I’m done… In doing some research into signs of actually having a drinking problem, I was very surprised to find this symptom. “You have few if any interest in social events that don’t revolve around drinking.” We need to make sure that just because some of the things we do aren’t actual Church functions (where we really shouldn’t have any alcohol at all… not wisdom) we still shouldn’t need to bring wine or beer to every social gathering. Realizing also that sometimes there may be people there that you may not know, and guess what? … they may have a drinking problem.
So let’s remember what Paul said? “…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. So let’s continue to do what it takes to TRULY love one another according to how the Bible tells us we should do so. Even if it means at times giving up our personal freedoms for the sake of love. What you do in your own home is between you and God, but as soon as it involves other’s… LOVE MUST RULE.
Some Scriptures to Live this by:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to wasteful living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
1 Timothy 3:1-4
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being a church leader, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth: and wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
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