“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Romans 14:13, ESV)
Last week we discussed how The Way was Christianity’s original name. Of all the things we can do, the most important is getting in The Way—beginning, and continuing, our journey of faith in Jesus. But as we grow as Christians, if we are not mindful, we can also find ourselves “in the way” of the faith of others.
The verse above speaks of our responsibility to mature so that we never find our words or our behavior negatively influencing other believers, especially new believers. It can be as simple as an unkind word or a judgmental statement. Or it can be an elaborate system of excuses to justify our sinful behavior. It can be inordinate pride, or false humility.
Paul tried to make this clear in his letter to the Romans. “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble” (Romans 14:20-21, ESV). He emphasized that we should be mindful of others in our actions even if our actions are not wrong!
That’s a weighty burden!
Not only are we called to be holy in God’s eyes—“…as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15, ESV)—but we are called to be holy in the eyes of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are weaker in faith, which may necessitate giving up some of our freedoms in Christ. This may be for a season, or it may be forever. It may be when we are around certain people, or it may—and more likely—be surrendering those freedoms entirely.
So what does this mean practically? The answer is supremely simple; the execution however, is a monumental task that must become our greatest goal. Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, ESV). And, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14, ESV). James wrote, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14, ESV).
My mind goes back to the “who-loves-who-more” game I’m sure we have all played at one time or another. “I love you!” “I love you more!” “No, I love you more!” May we all strive to love everyone more.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!
Photo by Nathan Shively on Unsplash