‘So do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.’ Acts 21: 23-24 (NIV).
There are essential issues in the Christian faith that we must never compromise upon. And then there are non-essential which we can approach with flexibility and leniency. Paul found himself in a position that called for the latter.
These four men mentioned above were taking a religious vow in the temple and Paul was going to participate with them in this vow. However, Paul needed to submit himself to a Jewish ceremony of purification before entering the temple. By engaging in this custom, Paul would be keeping peace with the Jewish church.
Paul must have felt that being part of this ceremony would not discredit his testimony and not oppose his strong Godly convictions. Paul was willing to compromise on non-essential points and become all things to all people so that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Often Christians divide over the most ridiculous things! Style of worship, how the communion is delivered, whether women should be in ministry or not, whether we should have long or short sermons, the list of non-essential issues we disagree about is endless. The enemy is using every strategy he can to keep our eyes off the essential issues that really matter. And in doing so the Body of Christ is distracted from loving Christ and the lost, which is our intended purpose.
‘Heavenly Father, forgive me for getting side-tracked with the non-essentials of the Christian faith. Help me to hold fast to what is most important, Jesus and his sacrifice for the forgiveness of my sins. Help me to show grace and love to all believers even in our differences, so that we can focus on the essential work of loving you and those who are lost.’
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
Like Paul, we should remain firm on Christian essentials but flexible on non-essentials and know the difference between the two. That way we can hold fast to what Christ calls important and hold the rest loosely, exercising mutual submission for the sake of the gospel and always the glory of God.
Be Greatly Blessed!