“What to Do When Someone Is Different from You” is chapter 8 in Dave Swavely‘s Who Are You to Judge? The Dangers of Judging and Legalism (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2005). It has four headings:
- The Principle of Acceptance
- The Principle of Personal Conviction
- The Principle of Edification
- The Principle of Conscience
Here’s an excerpt from the section on edification (120–23):
Even when we have freedom before God in particular areas of our lives, we may sometimes need to restrict our freedom for the purpose of building up our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is because God does not want anyone to act against his conscience (see the next section), and we must be careful not to tempt anyone to do so. Paul explains all this in Romans 14:13–21 . . . .
One time I was playing Uno® with three of my children. The youngest one, Madison, was only four and still learning how to win and lose with grace. So when things were not going her way in the game, she would be tempted to whine and cry. In one particular game, she was not doing well at all, and she was on the edge of losing it. I, on the other hand, was about to win, and I almost put down a “Draw Four” card which would have put her deeper into the hole and almost certainly sent her over the edge emotionally. But I didn’t want to have to discipline her for throwing a tantrum, and I wanted her to have a good first experience with the game, so I kept the “Draw Four” card in my hand and picked one off the pile (which disadvantaged me, of course). Then the next time around, the only card I could play was the “Draw Four,” but after staring for a moment into her gorgeous blue eyes and noticing her quivering lip, I kept it in my hand and drew again. This happened a third time, and a fourth time, until Maddy finally won the game, and I was left with a big stack of cards!
I don’t like losing any kind of game, even when the winner is so cute, but I thought afterwards what a great illustration that is of how we should treat one another in the body of Christ. We must be willing to give up our rights to keep others from going down the wrong path, when we know they might be headed that way.
I have not taken a vow to lose every game I ever play, however. This will serve to correct a misunderstanding that some people have of the principle of edification. . . . If our actions might possibly cause someone to stumble in that or any area, they say, then we should abstain at all times, just in case. But the first problem with that idea is that if we were to apply it consistently, we would become catatonic zombies who never do anything! . . .
The other problem with that approach, however, is that is is simply not scriptural. . . . [The principle of edification applies] in situations where we know that our potential actions will cause a brother or sister to sin.