Causing A Brother To Stumble

Q. Romans 14:21-23, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause  your brother to stumble be offended or be made weak. So whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

I understand the verse about not causing a brother to stumble. Please explain the rest for me.

A.  In Paul’s day there were many pagan temples, and when they sacrificed animals to their gods they would sell the meat in their banquet halls to help support the temple.

Some temples became an impromptu butcher shop and in others the meat was cooked and served restaurant style where anyone with the price of a meal was invited to come and eat, regardless of their beliefs.

Some Christians refused to eat the meat, fearing they would be worshiping idols by doing so, and therefore sinning. Others considered themselves more secure in their faith and saw nothing wrong with eating it because the pagan gods were just statues.

Paul said if you don’t see anything wrong with eating meat or drinking wine that’s fine. But keep the matter between you and God, because those who don’t think it’s appropriate would be sinning by doing it. I think he was saying they should do things like this in private, not in public.

The lesson for us is even though we have great freedom in Christ, we should always be careful not to either offend others by our behavior, or cause someone who is struggling to be unnecessarily tempted because of it.

“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor. 10:23-24).

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