Romans 14: Stumbling Block or Building Block

Read Romans 14:13-23

Stumbling Block or Building Block

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead,
make up your mind not to put any stumbling block
or obstacle in your brother’s way.
~Romans 14:13

Digging Deeper: There is an intentional and intriguing choice of Greek words here in Romans 14:13. It’s the word, krino, which means “to judge”.  The Apostle Paul used it twice: The first time as a negative, “stop passing judgment” and second time as a positive, “make up your mind.”

What Paul has done in this chapter is to bring each of us to one of the most critical decisions we will ever make as Christ-followers: To either use our lives as a stumbling block or as a building block in the body of Christ. That outcome is determined by the mindset we choose.

If we choose to pass judgments about other believers based only on our opinions and preferences (“disputable matters”—Romans 14:1), we will very likely cause the subject of our judgments and the onlookers to our judgmental expressions to fall into sin. Even though our opinions and preferences in and of themselves may not be sin, when they are offered in such a way as to block another believer’s growth and sap their spiritual vitality, we become a stumbling block, and in so doing, commit one of the worst sins possible: Causing someone else to falter. (Luke 17:1-3)

That is why our best judgment must be deliberately employed at all times to choose and use the kinds of words, attitudes and actions that build others up in their faith. When we do, we become that which is highly prized by heaven: A building block in the body of Christ.  Paul says, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19) “Edification” comes from the Greek word, oikodomay, which literally refers to the thing that is built, and metaphorically to the act of one who promotes another believer’s growth in wisdom, joy, piety, and purity.

So what, then, are you to do with your opinions and preferences—the things you feel very strongly about?  It’s simple: For the most part, keep them to yourself.  Think I’m being too hard?  Think again: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” (Romans 14:22)  And if you do feel the need to offer them, which you have every right to do, express them respectfully and carefully. As Paul says, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of” what you prefer. (Romans 14:20)

Simply remember this critical piece of theology and you’ll always be a building block, not a stumbling block: “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking [your opinions and preferences], but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

Righteousness, peace and joy! When you value those three kingdom jewels and promote them at all times, you will have chosen the best and highest use of your life.  And best of all, your life will be forever prized by heaven!

“Men stumble over pebbles, never over mountains.
~Marilyn French

This Week’s Assignment:

Read: Romans 14:1-23

Memorize: Romans 14:19

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads
to peace and to mutual edification.”

For Your Consideration: What is it that really bugs you about other Christians?  Make a list, and then ask yourself, “Should these things really matter to me?”  (Hint: The answer will be “no” in about 99.9% of the things you list, and the other .01% are in doubt.) The real point of this exercise is to see where you may have fallen into a judgmental spirit toward other believers.  By the way, if you think this is no big deal and you would just as soon skip this little assignment, just remember, God takes this thing very seriously.  That’s why he has one entire chapter in Romans devoted to it.

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