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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today’s Reading | Romans 14:13–21 

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. If your brother or sister is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for you to make others fall by what you eat; it is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. (NRSV)

The Apostle Paul no doubt discovered newfound freedom in knowing that in God’s eyes nothing is unclean. Nothing we may eat or drink renders us unclean. But instead of pushing that truth on others, Paul urges followers of Jesus to respect that others may not believe the same thing. He even goes so far as to say, “It is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean.” Later he says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” So take care that your freedom, your behavior, does not lead another to act against their own conscience or beliefs. We are to pay attention to how our actions may influence another to stumble or fall.

Most of us don’t believe substances will make us unclean. But, still, our own freedom to engage in certain actions should be limited by any negative impact we could have on others. I may not be an alcoholic, but I should be caring towards others who may be or become an alcoholic. I need to guard against encouraging social situations in which the availability of alcohol or my use of it tempts others to overindulge. So, too, with food. I may have an effective metabolism and no issues with overeating (not!), but it’s best if I choose to offer myself and others healthy foods in a balanced amount. Being sensitive to others so they do not stumble applies to any matter of conscience. Our overriding goal needs to be “to pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” We are called to walk in love with one another. “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Loving God, help me discern whether my actions could harm another. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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