So far this week, I’ve been focusing on the Old Testament reading, since fewer people are as familiar with the Old Testament, and there is a lot to learn from it. But today, I’d like to point out something from Romans 14.
Romans 14 is written to “strong” Christians, and discussed the topic of doing things that may offend a brother (i.e. cause someone to stumble into sin). Back in the day, apparently there were some who felt they shouldn’t eat meat, because it may have been sacrificed to an idol. But since we know idols are nothing, it’s fine to eat meat, as long as we thank God for it. But here comes the rub, in Romans 14:15, “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.”
It continues in Romans 14:19 by saying, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” And in Romans 14:21, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”
I share this because it hits me personally. Years ago, we had someone in our church who thought it was a sin to drink wine. I happened to drink wine (sparingly, but still…). Somehow, it came up that I drank, and he came to me to point out my sin. I was familiar with this passage, and others like it, and knew it wasn’t a sin to drink, but it’s a sin to get drunk. Of course I thanked him for his concern and for pointing this out, while secretly I was scoffing.
But Beth, my late wife, pointed out 1 Corinthians 8:9, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” In my arrogance, I was quick to point out that he was the weak one here, and I am the strong one. That was irrelevant. I was commanded to do things that lead to peace and to not put a stumbling block in front of the weak. So, with Beth’s persistence, I was able to comply.
This points out a truth I’ve come to understand over the years. Many times, we may recognize what God has to say, but we don’t necessarily want to do it. In cases like these, I have found that it really helps to have an accountability partner to help hold us accountable, to do what God demands, even if we don’t necessarily want to obey. And ultimately, obeying God works out best for everybody.
So if you haven’t considered having an accountability partner before, you may want to consider how this could be used to draw you closer to God.