JUDGE NOT ONE ANOTHER
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. Romans 14:13
Paul is going to develop the thought that our conduct must be for the sake of the weak brother. If I am traveling in the same car with a fellow who believes he should not eat meat, I’m not going to eat meat while staying with him—not because I agree with him, but for the sake of a weak brother.
Both strong and weak Christians can cause their brothers and sisters to stumble. The strong but insensitive Christian may flaunt his or her freedom and intentionally offend others’ consciences. The scrupulous but weak Christian may try to fence others in with petty rules and regulations, thus causing dissension. Paul wants his readers to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others’ needs. Because we are all strong in some areas and weak in others, we need to constantly monitor the effects of our behavior on others.
Some Christians use an invisible weaker brother to support their own opinions, prejudices, or standards. “You must live by these standards,” they say, “or you will be offending the weaker brother.” In truth, the person would often be offending no one but the speaker. While Paul urges us to be sensitive to those whose faith may be harmed by our actions, we should not sacrifice our liberty in Christ just to satisfy the selfish motives of those who are trying to force their opinions on us. Neither fear them nor criticize them, but follow Christ as closely as you can.
Instead of sitting in judgment on our fellow Christians in the matters of moral indifference, we should resolve that we will never do anything to hinder a brother in his spiritual progress. None of these nonessential matters is important enough for us to cause a brother to stumble or to fall.
Paul’s warning against judging relates to Christians’ attitudes and actions toward the convictions of other believers. The other side of the coin is evaluating the impact of one’s own convictions and actions on other Christians. In this section, Paul warned against causing other Christians to stumble through hindering their spiritual growth by asserting that one is free to live in accord with convictions not shared by other believers.
Lord Jesus, we should regard one another as spiritual siblings. Each believer, though free to have his or her own convictions, must also be careful that those convictions don’t put an obstacle in another Brethren’s path. Paul wants his us to be both strong in the faith and sensitive to others’ needs. Because we are all strong in certain areas and weak in others, we constantly need to monitor the effects of our behavior on others. Lord, make us be a channel of blessing to our brethren. Amen.