Last month I wrote that, even though we all have our differences, we ought to submit to one another so that the kingdom of God might grow. Unfortunately, because we value our individuality so much, we often find ourselves passing judgment on each other. While we might give up our own freedom in Christ, we resent those whose faith might be weaker.
In Romans 14:1, Paul wrote: “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Paul is writing to those who have confidence in their faith and who do not stumble over disputable matters, in this case, from verses 2 and 5, food and drink and “holy days.” What if a formerly Jewish Christian decided to celebrate his freedom in Christ on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) by eating a bacon cheeseburger? Do you suppose other formerly Jewish Christians might have a problem with that? What if the bacon had come from a pig that was sacrificed in a pagan temple? Do you suppose other Christians who used to be pagans might have a problem with that?
In the spirit of Romans 14:20, which says, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble,” the Christian with stronger faith ought to give up the bacon cheeseburger for the sake of the other Christians. If he gives it up grudgingly and his attitude is a matter of “They need to grow up,” then he is sinning, despite his freedom.
The weaker brother or sister isn’t off the hook, however. If those Christians who have trouble with their brother’s actions insist that he give up his freedom for their sake, because of what the Scriptures say, they have put themselves in the position of having the stronger faith. If they can point to the Scriptures and say, rightfully, “Do not cause anyone to stumble,” they must also be careful not to judge their brother.
Regardless of your starting point, if your attitudes and actions come from the perspective of “my freedom” or “my faith,” it is not coming from the perspective, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, of doing it for God’s glory. Let’s not destroy God’s work over disputable matters.