In the too long list of transgressions in my life, the ones that haunt me the most are those that might affect how someone else will approach eternity. I was about to say the sins of my youth, but that would deny the sins of my adulthood even though it does seem those of my youth are the more haunting. I know the grace of God for myself, that I have been forgiven because I have confessed my sins and believe that because God is faithful and just He has cleansed me from all unrighteousness. I trust also in God’s grace for everyone else who has confessed his or her sin.
Sin, however, by its nature, is selfish. When I sin, I act selfishly. I have no regard for those I hurt. I grieve the heart of God, but I also bring pain to the human object of my unkind deeds and words. People are hurt.
It is bad enough to cause pain in this life. But what if the pain I cause extends past this life? What if my selfishness, the unkind words, the hurtful deeds, cause someone to reject the God I at the same time confess?
Pastor Paul’s advise to the Corinthian Christians has a slightly different topic when he addressed the issues surrounding the consumption of meat butchered in sacrifice to Roman idols. The stakes, however, are the same as it is the conscience of another that is affected. Whether it is my sin or whether it is the exercise of my Christian liberty, I have to be aware that the effects of my choices are not limited to me only. For today, then, I must trust that my confessed sins are forgiven. Like Pastor Paul as he wrote to the Philippians, “I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:13,14 ESV). And for tomorrow, I will strive, and by God’s grace, I will live knowing that whether by my selfish sin or by my ‘knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against [my] brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, [I] sin against Christ.’