“We understand that some men from here have troubled you and upset you with their teaching, but we did not send them! So we decided, having come to complete agreement, to send you official representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are sending Judas and Silas to confirm what we have decided concerning your question.
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”(NLT)
One of the key lessons to learn in Christian ministry is to choose which battle to fight. Some, sadly choose to fight every battle, seeing every issue as of life and death importance. Every matter is central to the gospel and so every matter is to fought for and every battle won. This is very exhausting and rather unnecessary. Sometimes we might find ourselves fighting for a personal opinion deeply held. Is it worth the fight?
When the early church had some trouble with false teachers, the leaders got together to figure out how to respond. Their response is our passage today. It seems they decided some things were worth fighting for, a line was drawn in the sand. But on other issues up for debate they granted freedom to individual Christians. They chose not to make everything a “gospel” issue.
We dare not surrender the essentials of our faith in order to attain some easy peace. But we dare not spend our energies fighting battles that don’t need fighting. Wisdom in Christian leadership is knowing when to fight on a matter of principle and when to agree to disagree. Churches and their leaders can be worn out by never ending battles over things that are ultimately secondary.
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Let’s save our energy for the real battles rather than waste them on those not worth fighting. Standing firm and giving way can both be godly expressions of faith.