Friday, September 08, 2006

Pick Your Battles

I've always regarded Paul, the author of a good chunk of the New Testament, as an uncompromising proclaimer of truth and opponent of error, but during a recent reading of the Book of Romans, rather to my surprise, I noticed an important caveat that hadn't sunk in before - that there are some errors that we shouldn't oppose.

The passage that hit me - if you care to follow along - is the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of Romans, but specifically, Romans 14:14, where Paul writes: "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."

In the first part of this verse Paul makes it clear that there is nothing wrong with eating any kind of food. Okay, that's the truth-proclaiming Paul I know so well. So, in the second part of the verse, I would have expected him to tell the believers to correct those who mistakenly believe you shouldn't eat meat.

But he doesn't!

Instead, he essentially says that some errors are harmless and to leave people in their errors because it is far more important that those people not violate their consciences.

So, if people believe, for example, that meat is out-of-bounds (14:21) or that one day is more sacred than another (14:5) or that you shouldn't drink wine (14:21)... well, so what!? Yes, they're wrong, but it just doesn't matter!

In fact, Paul goes further and even urges other believers to not eat meat if it's going to throw the lives of those who don't believe in eating meat into a tizzy.

So Paul is actually saying we should accomodate some types of error!


While there are indeed core issues that believers should stand up for firmly - as Paul does - there are also a slew of peripheral issues that just aren't worth fighting about and damaging people's faith about and alienating people about and upsetting people about and causing division about, even when we ab-so-lutely know the truth about those issues.

So, pick your battles... wisely.

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