Wise Scruples – January 22, 2018

On Sunday (1/21) we looked at Romans 14.  Paul discusses the highly scrupled as those being “weak in the faith.”  He admonishes them not to judge people whose faith permits them to do, or participate in, things that would violate the weaker brother’s conscience.  Which raises the question of “is it bad to have scruples (personal convictions)?  The obvious answer is, “no but…”

  1. It’s wrong to allow our scruples (or traditions) to rise to the level of a biblical conviction. (Col 2:8)
  2. It’s wrong to pass our scruples on so carelessly that we add them to the requirements for eternal life, “Christian boys don’t stick their tongues out at their sisters.” (Acts 4:12)
  3. It’s wrong to play the scruples game to win favor or exclude people (Gal 2:11-14)
  4. It’s foolish to stay so weak in my faith that I’m hurt by other’s freedom (2 Peter 3:17-18)

Yet, there is certainly a call in scripture to be wise and on Sunday a question was asked about evaluating new things in light of scripture – developing wise scruples in areas the Bible isn’t explicit about.   I like a little aid I call the Corinthians Questions (borrowed from Jerry Bridges who borrowed it from a friend of his).

Question 1) Is it helpful – physically, mentally and emotionally?

“Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12a)

Question 2) Does it bring me under its power – e.g. become a habit or an addiction?

“Everything is permissible for me’ – but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12b)

Question 3) Does it hurt others?

“Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:13)

Question 4) Does it glorify God?

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

These four simple questions, asked honestly, can help us evaluate our position on new trends or opportunities AND ought to be used on occasion to reevaluate scruples that may have formed when we had less spiritual wisdom.

One other note – not all scruples are limits on potentially negative behaviors – it’s also wise to develop some scruples about things like personal devotions or giving.  Neither should be optional for a believer, but how much and how often is a matter of personal conviction!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

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