In Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle is teaching about the relationship between weak and strong believers. The weak ones need rules to help them follow Christ. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they continue their growth.
It’s the stronger ones who need to watch their attitudes in dealing with the weaker ones. Paul continues talking about those things that the Bible does not label as sin, yet some people have a problem with.
If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.
The bottom line is, that if what you do in front of your brother is distressing to him, then you’re not acting in love. For instance, there are churches that feel very strongly that women must only wear dresses. If you decide to wear your pantsuit, and cause an uproar, you’re not acting in love.
According to Paul, we’re not to destroy their conscience over things. That’s because in response, they might do something God doesn’t want them to do. And, in areas of addictions, they may get trapped all over again.
There’s also the possibility that they may put up a wall and break fellowship with you. You really don’t want to be tearing down the kingdom of God over side issues.
You might argue that what you’re doing isn’t even wrong. That’s not the issue. Paul says that even though what you’re doing can be considered good, don’t let it be spoken of as evil.
We should seek to be blameless. We don’t want to open the door to the accuser – Satan – in order for him to accuse through a brother or sister.
When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
1 Corinthians 8:12-13
This is a very important point and we need to pay careful attention to it. When we sin against a brother or sister, we’re also sinning against Christ. That’s a bad place to be in.
Paul said that if it meant not hurting others, he would actually choose to stop eating meat. The big question is; do we love others to this degree?
“I’ll become a vegetarian before I knowingly cause a brother to sin.”
I praise God that this isn’t a choice I have to make in this generation! But, here’s the bottom line.
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 approved by men.
The kingdom of God is not about what pleases you. It’s not about what your flesh wants. The kingdom of God was not established for your personal enjoyment.
I need to learn the simple truth that it’s not all about me. Instead, there are three things that should take precedence in my life.
First, there’s righteousness, my standing with God. Then, there’s peace. This Greek word speaks of the peace that’s the opposite of war. That means I cause no division between me and other believers.
Finally, it’s about joy. Joy is in understanding my life in Christ. It’s the result of the knowledge of what it means to be in Christ.
This is what the kingdom is all about. That’s the goal; I want to be pleasing to God, and approved by others. We should want to have both sides of the coin. That’s how the kingdom of God increases.
Question: How do you see the work of righteousness, peace and joy in your life?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi