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Stories We Tell - Allowances
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By Paul Wasmer


I learned about allowances fairly early in life. Not the money kind of allowance. In my home money was rarely given apart from chores of some kind. No, I am talking about the sewing kind of allowance. My mother made quite a few clothes for my family, and often, when I did not need to be occupied with other matters, she let me help her in the process.
 
First, she laid out the fabric, then placed the paper pattern on top of it, carefully pinning it in place. After careful instruction, she would let me cut the pieces out. I had to be most careful, because I had to follow the right lines. Each pattern has lines on it indicating the place where the seam was to go, but there were lines outside of that seam line where you were to cut. This extra fabric is called the seam allowance. If you cut incorrectly, the seam allowance could be too small, and when my mother would sew the pieces together, they wouldn’t fit properly. Leaving no allowance made it almost impossible to craft the garment the way the designer intended. 
 
The Christian life also requires that we have some allowances in life. Sometimes we are tempted to cut right to the edge of right and wrong. We know what is right, and all the rest gets cut off. Verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 encourage us to cut right to the line. And for so many areas of life, we do. Sabbath behaviors. Dietary choices. Music choices. Should the church celebrate Easter or Christmas? When we look at others and decry their choices as wrong, when in fact they just might be preferences, it makes it very hard for the Holy Spirit to sew us together in love.
 
In Romans 14:1-6, Paul counsels us to not cut your brothers and sisters so close that there is no way to find unity. Do you disagree with their theology or behavior? Let it be. God will judge. Give each other a little bit of space, and remember, the Master Tailor will bear final responsibility for the fit and finish of the garment He is working on.
 
Paul Wasmer is pastor for the Carlisle, Mifflintown, and Sherman Dale churches in Pennsylvania