We're under 10 days to go! Stay with it!
Have you thought much about your rights as of late? We voted a couple of weeks ago. That was our right according to the Constitution of the United States. When in England, I had several discussions about the rights of individuals to bear arms and the right of the government to capital punishment. But in today's reading, I was struck about just how little rights play into life in the Kingdom.
Consider 13.14: put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.
It might be my right to have cable television and internet. But in order to make no provision for the flesh, I might not have those at all or not have premium channels or put on internet accountability software because I know my heart is inclined to lust. It might be my right to own what I desire and can afford. But in order to make no provision for the flesh, I might budget my expenditures and give away more to worthy causes than others do because I know my heart is inclined to greed. On and on we could go. It might be my right, but it doesn't make it right.
If I could give you one thing to think about for your spiritual health today, it would be that phrase: make no provision for the flesh.
But the rights aren't limited to my own heart - they also extend outwardly. That's the whole message of 14.1-15.7. Paul advocates the laying down of rights for the sake of the conscience of others. That's a foreign concept to most westerners, particularly Americans. But we're no longer just westerners or just Americans. We're also Kingdom citizens who have a responsibility to the King and to others in the Kingdom.
Take the use of alcohol. Is it okay, for instance, to drink wine with a meal? You bet. In England last week, several of our Christian, God-loving, Jesus-following, Spirit-filled hosts had wine and beer in their homes. I know all the Baptists just gasped, but breathe deeply and hang in there. My hosts in particular specifically asked me on the ride from the train station to their house, "I don't really know how to approach this, but are you a teetotaler?" They indicated that if I was, they'd be happy to put away all the alcohol from their house. That's loving and gentle and kindness and Kingdom. That's the way it should be.
Remember: just because it's my right doesn't make it right. The Kingdom matters far more than any individual's claim.
But that's just me thinking thoughts...