June 5, 2021
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 1:4 ESV
The above verse is preceded by Paul’s caution to Timothy to not follow the deceitful teachings of others who prescribe an ascetic lifestyle (such as abstaining from marriage or certain foods). Elsewhere, Paul graciously encourages believers to observe dietary restrictions to avoid causing those who are weak in the faith to stumble (Romans 14:20, 1 Corinthians 8:13) and to consider celibacy to be fully devoted to serving Christ (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). Here, however, Paul is addressing perversions of the Gospel that are inspired by demonic influence (verse 1).
How so? When we proclaim our preferences regarding diet, relationships, or any other matter of life with certainty and conviction that would indicate that anyone who does not agree with our worldview is sinning, we are adding to the Gospel—it is not from God. (Of course, this does not pertain to lifestyles contrary to Scripture, for which we need to make a stand.)
What then is the balance? For science has shown us that certain foods and lack of exercise can be harmful. And for some who struggle with severe emotional or physical limitations, marriage is not a good idea. Even in these specific situations, we would do well to pray for the other person and ourselves and then share our insights with grace and humility, rather than present them as the Gospel.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling