SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Back then, after animals were sacrificed to an idol the meat would be sold at the butcher shop. Christians from a Jewish background thought eating that meat was akin to worshipping the idol, but Christians from a non-Jewish background didn't think so and would buy and eat the meat. This was causing division in the early church.
- Paul instructs Christians to not look down on and judge others because their behavior is different than your own. If another Christian has a different conviction about a minor point don’t try to prove them wrong. Instead, share your own conviction while maintaining an attitude of love and humility (verse 3). Remember that everyone is accountable to God and not to us (thankfully!). So we're to forget about deciding what’s right for each other and focus on loving one another.
- He also tells Christians to make up their minds to not put any stumbling block or obstacle in each other’s way. If you know that a certain food, drink, or behavior is troubling for a friend, lovingly abstain from that activity when they're around. We should care more about other people than our own comfort. Don’t make life more difficult for others.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The underlying principle is to love others more than yourself. We're told in verse 19 to “make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Peace and edification (that which builds someone up) take great effort, and is probably impossible without God working in our lives. We need God's love and strength to help us to love others and not judge them or cause them to stumble.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Take a close and honest look at your life. Where are you judging others rather than accepting where they're at and loving them? Where might you be causing others to stumble in their journey rather than helping them to move forward? Make a commitment and ask for God's help to stop, and to start truly living a life of love.