ROMANS:The Road to Righteousness
Practicing Love and
Jerry A Collins
How should we treat a weaker brother?
What is the difference between a weaker and stronger xian?
Why is God concerned about how we handle our convictions?
Several months ago Ruth’s Mother was taking one of her daily morning walks when within a second she found herself face down on the sidewalk, bloodied, bruised and in pain. Her foot had gotten caught in a crack on the sidewalk and she had landed right on her face. Fortunately nothing was broken but for weeks she was black and blue all over the side of her face. This week I contacted a friend of mine in GR who is home recuperating from falling while riding his bicycle. He has three broken ribs. These kinds of stumbles and falls cause a lot of misery. That is just what our passage teaches us today about the nature of spiritual stumbling. It is the kind of stumbling that takes place when another person sticks his foot out and trips you up spiritually. It has the same kind of results too—it hurts, it can destroy vs 15 and it tears down vs 20. So, who is causing who to stumble and how can we avoid being participants?
1. DO NOT BE THE CAUSE OF A XIAN SPIRITUAL STUMBLES 13
(1) Evaluate the impact of your own convictions and actions on other xians 13a. That begins by not passing judgment on each others opinions about secondary issues vs 1. Stop doing this kind of thing, he says. If you are free or if you are constrained in some way about questionable issues then there is an alternative to judging each other.
(2) Instead judge yourself and your actions to ensure that your convictions are not something a person trips over. Someone gets hurt when they trip over things. So you have to be careful over disputable issues. It is a brother that you will cause to trip and fall. The stumbling block refers to an object on a path against which someone strikes his foot and stumbles or falls. The offense refers to a snare used to catch a victim walking by. In each case, the results are destructive and counter-productive.
2. DON’T LET YOUR
In this section the argument is especially about the stronger xian being concerned for the welfare of the weaker xian 14-21.
(1) Latitude Needed 14: We have
convictions and can express them like Paul did. In this case, that no food is
unclean in itself. And that is true. We are no longer under the Law as they
were in OT. The problem, however, is that not all xians
will share your conviction. Especially the Jewish ones in
(2) Ruin Avoided 15: So if your convictions allow you to eat everything how do you respond to one with scruples against certain kinds of food? I will not do as I like! When one sees another xian doing what his conscience condemns, it causes him grief. His conscience says otherwise. If you then persist to enjoy your freedom, then you are not acting in Love and your freedom of expression can lead to his spiritual ruin. The welfare of another brother takes precedence over my liberty in disputable things. After all, Christ died for the other brother too. I cannot say well it is my life and I will do as I please. It is between me and God. It is not. It is also between you and your brother.
(4) Kingdom Focus 17: It is a stupid attitude to have because the
(5) God Pleased 18: Actually, stressing these kingdom graces is serving Christ. Did you ever consider that containing your xian liberty is a way in which we serve Christ? This kind of thing is very pleasing to God and in contrast to our liberty being evil spoken of—it actually is viewed favorably by others. We win their approval since they realize what is more or less important in our walk with God. (6) Pursue Peace 19: Make every effort to pursue peace and to build up one another. It is not peace at any price. Not accepting doctrinal error. My focus is on the other person not on the enjoyment of my xian liberty. Not my rights. Not division.
(7) God’s Work 20: Even tho God permits eating of all foods, He does not sanction eating that causes spiritual issues of conscience for someone else. This destroys the very work God is doing in building up His church. We actually are counter-productive when we insist on our liberty when it trips others spiritually.
3. DO ONLY WHAT YOUR CONSCIENCE ALLOWS YOU TO
(1) Don’t spend your life telling others your stance on secondary issues and then try and force your convictions on them 22. A strong believer can be happy in his private enjoyment because he knows that neither is he violating God’s will nor weaker bros conscience.
(2) If you indulge when you believe your should not you stand condemned by your own conscience and by God. If you believe its wrong, even tho not wrong in itself, it becomes sin for you (James ). You violate what you believe is God’s will and so you sin against God in this matter.
1. Allow your conscience, in areas where the Bible does not specify something, to guide you. Follow it and evaluate your conscience.
2. Insist on right conduct, harmony and joy rather than forcing your own lifestyle on others.
3. At times one’s xian liberty must be relinquished for the sake of a weaker xian.
4. Don’t insist on influencing a xian with excessive convictions to change his ways.
5. Always follow your conscience but never put someone else in charge of your conscience.
6. Almost anything can cause someone to stumble and give offense. Drinking alcohol or not drinking alcohol. Charasmatic sign-gifts offend and non-charasmatics avoiding them offends charasmatics. Modes of baptism and views of end times can offend. Sunday as holy day or every day holy. So the application must be (1) Individual not universal. (2) Gives an offense which weakens someone’s conscience causes stumbling—violating their own—but remember you must be moving to stumble. 6. When in doubt—don’t!