We’re continuing to go through the book of Romans. Paul is dealing with how we treat one another, especially those who are weaker in the faith. We must be careful not to bring hurt into their lives.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
This should be the goal of all that we do and say. The word, peace, in this verse is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. It comes from a root which means to join. We need to concentrate on things which bring us together.
Paul also tells us to strive for mutual edification. This word speaks of things that build up one-another. Too often we’re guilty of tearing down God’s work over minor, insignificant issues.
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man 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 to fall.
This is the other side of the coin. The verse tells us not to destroy, or literally, don’t loosen the joints, in God’s temple. That’s especially true for the sake of temporary things.
It’s important to note here that Paul makes a very broad statement. “All food is clean.” For a former Pharisee to say this is monumental.
At one point, recorded in the book of Acts, there was a controversy. They were questioning if Gentiles should become Jews in order to be saved. They had a huge meeting in Jerusalem, with all the apostles present, including Paul and Peter.
After hearing all the arguments, James stands up and gives his judgment. It’s important to see what he says and why. Remember, he was surrounded by some apostles and Christian Pharisees who believed you must become a Jew to be saved.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”
First, we see that it was his judgment, but, based on what? The fact that Moses has been preached all over the Jewish world. The fact is that James didn’t want to cause a split.
Look at the letter that was sent around after the meeting.
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
I think it’s interesting that they blamed the Holy Spirit for this, even though there’s no mention of prayer, prophecy, or the Word of God. They did, however, admit that this decision was a burden to the churches.
By saying that all food is clean, in Romans, Paul is totally rejecting this “judgment” of James. He did that under the actual inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
After all this, we realize that the issue is not whether something is right or wrong. There’s a higher principle involved. It’s about the effect our actions have on fellow believers. There’s also the issue of how we’ll be looked at by the world.
The bottom line – it’s sinful to knowingly cause someone to stumble.
Question: How do you handle questionable things that aren’t specifically mentioned in Scripture?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi