For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
Have you ever had to break up a family squabble? Perhaps you had a couple of children who were at each other's throats, fighting over every little inconsequential thing? I would like to tell you that childish squabbles never happen in the family of God, but I think you and I both know differently. In this verse Paul is dealing with a squabble in the family; the family of God.
This dispute between those who felt that their freedom in Christ permitted them to eat meat sacrificed to idols had continued with the believers who were shocked and offended at such actions. Someone needed to grab everyone by the backs of their necks and tell them, "Knock it off, kids. The kingdom of God is far more important than focusing on eating meat or not. Get a grip."
As believers in Jesus Christ our focus should be found in pursuing the things that are at the heart of the Gospel. We find those in these three things listed by the Apostle Paul; righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Righteousness has been given to us by Christ, peace fills our hearts because we have been forgiven. Joy is something that we are able to pursue in spite of our circumstances.
It is always easy for us to get sidetracked by what is inconsequential. This is what the enemy of our souls loves for us to do. If he can get the church to spend the majority of it's time squabbling over things that are not important he can keep the church from doing the work that Christ commissioned us to do.
Have you found yourself involved in "family squabbles?" Do you find it more important to win a theological argument with a brother or sister in Jesus Christ than to look for ways to lovingly work together? May you hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit telling you, "Knock it off."
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