Romans 14:10-13 (New English Standard Version)
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
We’ve all had those moments where we need to make an unpopular choice. Whether it’s been with family, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances, your individual morals and convictions will drive the progress of your relationships. Perhaps your friends want to see a movie that makes you uncomfortable. Perhaps you want to partake of a drink that makes someone else uncomfortable. When operating amongst your Christian brothers and sisters, what is the best way to prevent yourself from making someone else stumble?
Let’s start by defining our terms.
Romans 14 is the definitive New Testament chapter on stumbling blocks, or roadblocks that prevent you from walking righteously with the Lord. Stumbling blocks are different for everyone, but the one thing they share in common is their ‘grey’ nature. For example, some Christians are comfortable watching movies that make other people uncomfortable. Some Christians are perfectly comfortable with the consumption of alcohol. Other Christians avoid it entirely. The bottom line: each Christian has the opportunity to define for themselves what they are comfortable with and what they are not (within the context of a Biblical walk). The problem with these convictions comes from the problem of judgment.
Judgment is such an ingrained part of our earthly flesh that we find ourselves passing it on everyone we meet. This goes for personal convictions as well. The Christian who does not mind the consumption of alcohol may try to push the convicted person into taking ‘just one sip.’ The Christian who is convicted about the purchase of lottery tickets may feel judged by fellow believers in a relevant conversation. Each party will attempt to pass judgment on the other, usually in no uncertain terms.
The Bible tells us that we must not treat one another with judgment nor contempt. We are not to judge those who exercise certain freedoms, nor are we to belittle those who do not. Instead, we must focus on our own lives. One day very soon, we shall stand before the throne of the One Most High. Can we give an account of our lives that we are not ashamed of? Can we proclaim to not have made our brothers and sisters stumble? Friends, this is what Romans 14 is all about.
Ultimately, we must learn to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, despite our disagreements on ‘stumbling block’ items. Each of us must give our own accounts of our actions to God, and are only responsible for one person: ourselves. Let us make up our minds not to put stumbling blocks around other believers today!
In what ways have other Christians not acted in love by disrespecting your personal convictions? Are there any situations in which you have hurt others? How can you identify ‘stumbling blocks’ for both yourself or others? Christ did not come to earth to separate, isolate, and alienate. Instead, he came to unify: and provide freedom only found in His love!
2 Corinthians 5:10 (Berean Study Bible)
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.
Romans 14:22-23 (New International Version)
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.