Notes from Norman
By Norman P. Grubb
Paul says, “Let us stop criticizing one another, but instead decide not to lay any stumbling block or trap in the way of a fellow Christian. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing is unclean of itself. Anything is unclean only to him who thinks it is unclean. But if what you eat hurts your fellow Christian, you’re not living according to love anymore. By what you eat, don’t ruin him for whom Christ died.”
It says to me—all things are pure. It isn’t wrong for me to drink my wine or eat this special kind of meat that was offered to idols and so on. Those things are not bothering me, because all things are pure to me, because I have that kind of faith. But, do not do a thing which will destroy my brother.
So, there is a beautiful balance here between affirming freedom, and being free, and taking no conviction except what God gives. But, in turn no judging my brother if he does a thing and he is convicted. Okay, bless him. The scripture given in this same chapter is, “Why dost thou judge thy brother? Who are thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand.” Paul says, “Don’t you judge your brother. He is God’s servant and God will deal with him. Who are you to judge another man’s servant: To his master he is responsible. And that beautiful word—“And he will be kept up.” God will uphold him for God is able to make him stand. So, we can have faith for our brothers like that and be free. Yet, at the same time be sensitive and not do things which we can freely do, but feel on the whole are not helpful in the fellowship to which we are linked.
Paul adds in the next to the last chapter “Where you are strong you should support the weak. You live to please your neighbor; we do not live to please ourselves.” Now don’t take that as bondage and say, “I’ll do that.” It is saying here—we ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves. Even Christ did not please Himself, but it is written, “The reproaches of them that reproached them fell on me.” Now the danger when you read that—“Oh, I should please them.” Don’t say that. I am not pleasing myself. God is in me and I live like that.
I am only saying that self-pleasing business needs putting into focus. You do please yourself. You can’t be yourself. You can’t be yourself and not please yourself. Life consists of pleasing yourself. Love must satisfy itself. Love must fulfill satisfaction in you. This was the first point which challenged me as a young man—the first touch I really had of repentance. The first touch was that I was self-centered. I was in a football accident and was in the hospital. I played rugby. While I was in the hospital it suddenly occurred to me, “Is the whole world selfish?” Because I was selfish.
There was something wrong here. My father and mother were for me; everything was for me. There was something wrong here. I had been reading books. One said, “All is done for self ends,” and that began to disturb me. This came from some of my school reading. I got out of it for a time by saying, “Oh wait a minute. The Bible says “for Thy pleasure we are created.” So, God pleases Himself. So, I’m in a good line then, Jesus in Hebrews 12, it said, “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.” For His own joy He endured the cross. So, I traced back, that God in Himself is Self-pleasing, so why shouldn’t I be self-pleasing? I hadn’t seen the point. Our form of self pleasing is to get just what we want for ourselves. Our redeemed self-pleasing is to get what other people need. We find our pleasure in other people’s needs. So we please ourselves by blessing others. Or, you please yourself by blessing yourself. So that is THE difference.
But, in the new life there is always this pleasing. I must enjoy myself. But, in this new life myself enjoyment is secondary to my other-loving. In my old life my self-enjoyment is primary. It is for myself. That is the difference. In the new life you still have self-enjoyment, still enjoy this and that, but the underground stream, the basis, really is that I may be the means by which others will find their enjoyment in God. That is the difference—when you find that you do not come to condemnation. “I shouldn’t be self-pleasing.” You are not self-pleasing.
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