Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. Romans 14:19-21
The whole of Romans 14 and into the first paragraph of Romans 15 is on this subject of the ‘weaker brother.’ It was an issue for the church in Rome (and most likely for us too!) so Paul talks it through thoroughly.
Even with the repetition, it’s still seems elusive. It’s easy to understand that we should not do anything to cause another person to stumble in their faith, but Paul also says to retain your freedom in Christ and do not allow people to speak of as evil what you know to be good (vs 16).
And then there’s the ‘but, really’ verses:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Romans 14:17-18
It’s not really a matter of eating meat or not eating meat… or drinking wine or not drinking wine… the Kingdom is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Living that way is pleasing to God. Even though this is true, and even though, for Paul, every kind of food or drink was acceptable, it is wrong if we cause another person to stumble.
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.
In our culture freedom and our rights as free people is paramount. For me as a follower of Jesus, it is different. I am still free… freer than most! But my freedom ends where what is beneficial for another person’s faith begins. I am, at the same moment, free in Christ and a slave to Christ. And just like Jesus, I am not to live for myself.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself… Romans 15:1-3
Thank You, Lord, for setting me free and capturing my heart. Make me more like You, I pray, for the benefit of others. I live for You today.