13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
A retired pastor years ago told us about his experience with a parishioner using this text because she was upset with something he had done. Not something sinful, un-Christian, or immoral. But she was saying it was hurting her faith. Being in his later years of ministry he felt comfortable letting her know that as she had been part of the church for over 60 years by now she was not able to use the weaker sister/brother issue in such a way.
This is not something we use to get others to change their ways. This is about how we live with others. Not trying to get others to be changed by the Spirit in the same order, or the same depth as we have been. Not saying that certain changes are essential (what others need to change) and other changes are not essential (things we need to change). It says that when my actions cause a problem for others, I change them.
Simple example. Drinking alcohol is not a sin. However, some are inclined to have nothing to do with alcohol. And some of those have dependency issues. For those with serious issues with alcohol, we would put the alcohol away and not have it in sight. Not wanting to have a temptation before them to harm them. For those who just don’t like it, we wouldn’t serve any. Not trying to offend.
But even more, Paul tells us that we are not to concern ourselves with how the people around us are expressing faith and how they are being transformed by the Holy Spirit (except to take joy in the work of the Spirit around us). Our goal is not to try to keep people away from faith and from being part of the church. Our goal is to be welcoming and inviting to others to have faith and grow in faith.
Song – You Say
Almighty God, your love for us and for all people is powerful beyond measure. Your love is so vast that nothing will prevail against it. We know this love is trustworthy because of Jesus Christ: his life of compassion, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead. In life and death we belong to you, holy triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.