Just because it’s okay to wear ripped jeans to school, doesn’t mean you should wear them to a holiday dinner at your grandmother’s house.

Just because you think it’s faster to travel by a different route, doesn’t mean every car you ride in should follow your navigation.

Just because you like country music (or rap), doesn’t mean you should change the station in your mother’s car.

This week’s character quality is deference.

Deference is limiting my freedom so I do not offend the tastes of those around me. It also means a humble submission and reverence. It’s courteous regard or yielding to the opinions, desires, or feelings of others. It’s letting someone else pick the movie or the restaurant. It’s not ordering a glass of wine with dinner because someone in the group has a strong opinion about such things.

Some issues are a matter of personal preference. Others have more serious consequences and can destroy friendships or faith.

Paul warned the church to not let the exercise of their freedom cause someone else to stumble in their faith. (See 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14.) Back then, most meat was offered to idols before being sold in the marketplace. Some Christians had no problem eating a steak that had detoured by the statue of a fake god while others experienced deep conviction and became virtual vegetarians.

Paul basically told the church to demonstrate their love for each other by being considerate. He said, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” (Romans 14:20a NIV) Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. All the food is clean, but “it is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (Romans 14:21 NIV)

Paul did not tell the weak to “get real” or “up with the times” or to just “deal with it” when others excercised their freedom of choice. Rather, Paul was quite clear that the strong should limit themselves out of deference for others.

Deference demonstrates that people and relationships are more important than getting my way.

What about you? Do you have strong opinions about certain things? Do you find it difficult to defer to others? Why or why not?

Character Matters – Deference
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