Romans 14:13-23 – Do Not Make Another Stumble
Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. The faith that you have, have as your own conviction before God. Blessed are those who have no reason to condemn themselves because of what they approve. But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.
Last night was one of those dinner table nights where the battle was raging over green things. One of our children feels that any leafy thing in a salad bowl that is not spinach or lettuce is a weed. Whether that’s arugula, kale, or anything else that looks a bit different. We eventually got it eaten, but not without some interesting noises along the way. Now, I don’t think that we caused our child to “stumble” (Paul’s words) by eating this, but I wonder about the ways that we continue to foster the “adiaphora” that I talked about in the last passage in what we force on one another. Its a tension that we struggle with as people of faith – if we feel that we have the truth that people need to hear, then we need to be willing to tell others about it. But where does it shift from opening the door via invitation to forcing upon others? I think that Paul here is not talking about the “big things” of faith but those small pieces that we hold to SO TIGHTLY that more often divide us from one another than bringing us together.