Be A Foundation Block, Not A Stumbling Block
“It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.” – Romans 14:21
Ever since discovering this verse years ago, it’s been a foundation for my beliefs when it comes to certain acts of this world. Many things that may seem Biblically acceptable are not always looked upon in the best of light culturally, therefore how do we handle it? For many years, I was trapped in a strict legalistic mindset (and still find myself in that mindset from time to time) that said if anyone looks upon me as doing something that they claimed was inappropriate for a Christian to be doing, then I should immediately stop such thing so that I’m not causing this person to stumble. Then I came across this verse…
“The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” – Matthew 11:19
I realized that while Jesus feasted and drank wine, many onlookers would criticize him for his actions. Instead of putting his life to a halt, Jesus, knowing exactly where He stood with God and that He was doing nothing wrong, continued living as He knew was pleasing to God.
So what does this mean then? Should I just continue doing what I know is ok even if people have a problem with it? Hang on just one second… In reference to Romans 14:21, Jews had not eaten meat up to this point in their history. After Peter saw the vision from God telling him that it was now ok for Jews to eat meat (Acts 10:9-16), many had a difficult time changing their mindset towards this, as I’m sure many of us would have as well. Although God had made these animals clean for eating, many Jews’ mindsets had not yet adapted, therefore they struggled with the idea. What Paul is saying here though is that even though the Jews know that it is now not wrong to eat these animals, if another believer (or non-believer in some cases) is still struggling with the idea, we should concede to their struggles and not cause them to question their faith. The same concept can be applied today when it comes to any issue, especially regarding a new or immature believer. If one believer has weaker faith and is struggling with whether something is right or wrong for him/her, then a stronger believer can be a guide to God’s teachings, but ultimately that weaker believer must pray about this issue and make this decision based between themselves and God. Any act that is not done out of faith is sin. If in my mind, I struggle with the idea of consuming alcohol yet I know that Biblically it is accepted in moderation, then I should still not drink it since I wouldn’t be doing it in faith, or feeling completely comfortable with it between God and myself.
I believe the keys to remember here are these…
1) Anything you don’t do out of faith is sin. That can mean anything from alcohol consumption to listening to any secular music, watching Disney movies, and going to Wal Mart. You need to have an intimate relationship and conversation with God about what kind of life he chooses for you. John the Baptist, for instance, was chosen by God to never consume alcohol during his life. He has a unique plan for your life. Seek Him and learn what that plan is and how you can live it accordingly.
2) Don’t be a stumbling block to weaker faith believers or especially non believers. Many non believers will make any excuse for who you are or what you do in order to justify why they won’t believe in the One True God, but the less you give them to use, the better off you’ll be. This can be a difficult task to try and balance out, but what I like to always use is a simple tool we’re all familiar with called WWJD? If Jesus were to walk into the room in the flesh at that very moment, would you be ok with everything that was taking place amongst that non believer, or would you stop? That may be your best measuring stick.
3) Love. Jesus, who was a perfect man here on Earth and is a perfect God at the right hand of the throne, was constantly ridiculed by other believers (the Pharisees, etc.) as well as non believers who wanted to find any fault they could against him. People are going to attempt to bring you down and find fault in you, but if you are living a life pleasing to God and if you love as Jesus loved, they’ll have nothing more to hold against you than they did Jesus himself.
Let your life be an example to live by and a foundation for new believers to build on, rather than a stumbling block for them to trip over.