Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Personal Rights Versus Right Choices

"We're going to do what?"

"Well, not we. You." Paul said jokingly.

Timothy shot him a look, and Paul dropped the lighthearted mask. Timothy had every right to be upset. Unfortunately, some of the Jewish people refused to drop the old ways. The situation was starting to explode.

He patted Timothy on the back. "Listen Timothy. God has given you a powerful anointing, and I want to take you on my travels. I believe God will greatly use you. However, the Jews where we would be traveling will not listen to you if you are uncircumcised because they know your father is Greek."

Timothy sighed. "It just doesn't seem right," he mumbled while running a hand through his hair.

"It's not, but it is a stumbling block to their walk with God. I can't make you do anything....But sometimes serving God means making a personal sacrifice for those around you. You've heard me teach on how it's better to go without something then to cause another brother to fall into sin." Paul studied Timothy's hard face, hoping and praying some of this was getting through to him.

Timothy was fixated on a dirty spot on the wall before he stood up from the chair where he'd been sitting. He huffed long and slow before answering. "Ok. Let's do it."

Based on Acts 16:1-5

"Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily." Acts 16:1-5

So here's what I think. This kinda stunk.

It did. Timothy had to get circumcised because others couldn't let go of the old ways, about things that God didn't care about anymore.

But you know what. It didn't matter.

It could have been so easy for Timothy to be mad, to let this affect his ministry, to let hate burrow into his heart. But he and Paul took a higher road.

"Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Romans 14:13

"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
1 Corinthians 8:9

This was a stumbling block to other people, so Paul and Timothy made the bigger, mature decision to not let this be a stumbling block for any of them.

Sometimes your personal right to something is not always the right answer. Sometimes we have to let things go. Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to. Sometimes we have to eat the broccoli so someone else can come to know God. But we have to make the choice. We can say no, just like Timothy could have said no. Fortunately, Timothy didn't. He took a hit, but he made the right choice.

What will our choice be?

V. Joy Palmer

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