Don't you just love it when God confirms the truth through Godly people? Here's the truth that was laid out for me: we often look at the outward appearance of those around us in order to judge for ourselves whether that person is right or wrong in the eyes of God. But the truth of the matter is that all we get is what we see and hear, we really have no idea what is going on deep down in the heart of that person, only God knows. (I Samuel 16:7).
For this reason, Paul says to the early church in Romans 14 not to judge our fellow brothers and sister over stuff that just don't matter, instead, we need to make the main thing the main thing. Well, he didn't say it exactly like that! Let me explain, Paul became aware that some believers were condemning those who were young in their faith over certain issues to which they had different opinions primarily centered around their upbringing or culture. So he says in Romans 14:17, "...the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit..."
This truth was confirmed to me by my pastor, Dr. David Anderson, the Sunday before I began writing this blog post and five days after I had written the previous blog post, "More Than Pretty"! Go back and read if you haven't done so already. In it, I discuss my judgment of Erica Campbell. So as I sat and listened to my pastor share his sermon, "The Other's Conscience", I could not help but think back on the times when I judged others and may have even condemned others over what Paul describes as disputable matters.
These are matters of conviction or conscience that often stem from how were raised or brought up. For example, a brother or sister in Christ might feel deeply that "Christians shouldn't drink alcohol" because they grew up in a situation where they witnessed how the consumption of alcohol led someone in their family to sins like drunkenness or violence. Because of this, they have personal convictions about drinking that they project onto ALL Christians. In my blog, I describe how my thought process was "Christian women shouldn't wear certain types of clothing" because according to the way that I was brought up and my own experience, a woman who does wear certain outfits will only draw the kind of attention that could lead to sexual immorality. But where does one draw the line regarding this issue of what Christian women should and shouldn't wear? What one woman considers "advertising", another may consider "flattering the best parts of herself". This is certainly a disputable matter that is determined through the convictions of the individual by way of the Holy Spirit.
So, after listening to the pastor and reflecting on my own actions, I asked the Holy Spirit, how should I handle such disputable matters when they are brought up in conversation among believers? What happens when I see a beautiful woman who is a believer in Christ wearing clothing that I think is too revealing? What should I do? What should I say to this woman?
This is what the Spirit said to me,
"Remember that time you wore those tight shorts to your boyfriend's house? You were already a believer. No one needed to reveal to you your own motives for wearing them. You already knew why you put them on when you put them on. You felt uncomfortable in it even when you left the house. You knew what kind of attention you were drawing. You felt self-conscience because you were convicted by your own faith."
Yes, I remember.
"What is the motive of the woman who is wearing the dress of which you disapprove? Do you know her heart and mind? Do you know the reason why she is wearing the dress? Do you know her convictions? You could speculate, you could assume, you could even condemn, but what good would that do?
Yvonne, the kingdom of God is not a matter of loose or tight clothing, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ is acceptable, so make peace and build up your sister. Do not, for the sake of outward appearances, destroy the work of God."