As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s explaining the relationship between strong and weak believers. We mustn’t fall prey to the temptation to judge one another. In my last post, I left off on this verse.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
I want to take the time to explain what these stumbling blocks and obstacles mean. It’s important for us to make it as easy as possible for growth to take place in the lives of fellow Christians.
The Greek word translated stumbling block, means a stub. It’s something sticking up from the ground, that will cause a person to trip. What does this mean in relation to weaker believers?
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.
1 Corinthians 8:9-11
When Paul wrote this, idol temples were the restaurants of his day. Selling the food that had been sacrificed was a way that these temples made money.
Paul taught that since these idols were nothing, you could eat this food without guilt. However, a Christian that might have worshiped at this temple before they were saved, would have a problem with it. In that case, the stronger Christian should be mindful of this issue.
What does that mean to us now? If you know that someone has rules in an area, then don’t rub your freedom in his face. If you know someone has an issue with scratch tickets, don’t wave your winning ticket in front of them.
“It’s not my fault they’re too weak to deal with it.”
But it is your fault if you don’t walk in love towards your fellow believers. That brings me to the word, obstacle. This word literally means a stick-trap. It’s what you see in the cartoons when a rope is hung from a bent tree.
This is a trap that will spring when you step in it. That’s what we’re doing when we don’t operate in love with a weaker Christian.
Maybe they had an issue with something before Christ. Maybe they were addicted to video games (Yes, that is an addiction) and the Lord had set them free from that. If you force them to play a game with you, the devil might use that to trap them all over again.
Do you really want to be the source of guilt and pain for a brother or sister in Christ? We must walk in love with each other.
As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean.
In this verse, Paul literally says that I have seen and I have been convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in and of itself. This is totally opposite what he was taught as a Pharisee. God must have done an incredible work in him.
But, Paul adds a footnote to this. If someone assigns the label of “unclean” to something, then to that person it is unclean.
It’s all about your attitude. If it reminds you of your sin and tempts you to return, then it’s unclean to you. Since you won’t be operating in faith, that would make it a sin for you to do it.
That’s why our overall outlook must be that of love, especially to those of us with a weak conscience. We mustn’t ridicule or judge each other for what someone feels strongly about. In that way we can all grow together as the body of Christ, fulfilling His call.
Question: What is an area of weakness for you?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi