So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God. ’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Dear God, when I read these words this morning I wondered how they would be received by the church now. Like, if Paul were alive today, had a Twitter account and sent this out, how would people in the church respond? Especially if he put the next few verses:
I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right.
There’s a lot packed into those nine verses. And a lot of it is loaded with potential controversy. Would we trust Paul enough to hear it? How do I know who to trust now?
Father, thank you for these scriptures. Thank you for the Scripture. Thank you for giving us this complicated set of stories and words of prophecy and wisdom to guide us. Thank you for showing us their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Thank you for showing us their seemingly petty conflicts (New Testament as well as Old Testament. Help me now as I go through this day. Help me to not judge and to simultaneously not cause others to stumble by giving them something to judge. Use me as a magnet for yourself. Bring others closer to yourself through my life. And bring me closer to you as well.
In Jesus’s name I pray,