Others Before Self

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too.19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. — Romans 14:14-23 (NLT)

In the 2nd half of Romans 14, Paul talks about being a stumbling block to others.  Our love for our brother or sister in Christ should cause us to put their spiritual well-being ahead of our own freedom.  If a brother or sister of mine has an issue with Christians drinking alcohol and I don’t, I should, out of Christian love for them, abstain from drinking in their presence.  If it is going to cause them to stumble, I need to be aware of that.  I need to love Christ and love them enough that I won’t cause them to stumble in their faith.  We may think, “That’s not fair!  That’s their issue, not mine!  I have the right to do as I please as long as I am not sinning!”  Being a Christian, though, is about putting God first and others before yourself.  If you are going to hurt someone’s walk with Christ then we need to set aside our “rights” for their benefit.  No one ever said that being a Christian was easy.  It is hard to put others before ourselves.  With the power of the Holy Spirit we can do just that.  What is more important?  Someone else’s spiritual health and walk with Christ or that light beer or glass of wine you want to drink?  The point is to be aware of others and to put their spiritual journey ahead of our freedom.  It’s not easy and it may not seem fair, but it is better to abstain than to cause someone whose faith may be weaker or on the edge to stumble and lose their faith altogether.



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