Stumbling on this passage

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 
Rom 14:21

I have a question.  How do you live this?  You shouldn’t do anything that causes your brother to stumble?  And how do you know when he stumbles?  Do you just not worry about it until he tells you that a practice of yours is causing him to stumble, or do you watch for the stumbling?  Because watching for another to stumble certainly seems to be a bad thing to do, and yet, how many times will someone confess to you that your behavior is a snare to them?

I have spent a large portion of my life being a people-pleaser, trying to fit the image, fill the bill, act the part.  I didn’t feel good about that, but for a long time the pressure was just too great.  I had to erect the facade in order to survive.  In the past few years, I have finally felt freed from this, but reading this today causes me to question.  

When I refrain from something that is not sin in order to protect another person from stumbling, is that performing to please another person rather than God?

What is the difference?  What is the key to being sensitive to others, while still playing to an Audience of One?   How do you keep a healthy perspective on living to please other men vs. following only God’s standard?



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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26 Responses to Stumbling on this passage

  1. keynee says:

    What this means to me is that I wouldn’t invite a Jew to a hog roast party.  There are too many hyper sensitive people to worry about offending them, but at the same time I won’t do something deliberate to offend them.   If you don’t know what offends don’t worry about it. 

  2. ” When I refrain from something that is not sin in order to protect another person from stumbling, is that performing to please another person rather than God? “No, because you are obeying Gods Word ” What is the difference?  What is the key to being sensitive to others, while still playing to an Audience of One?   How do you keep a healthy perspective on living to please other men vs. following only God’s standard? “Obedience to God comes first..When someone expects us to please them and it goes against Gods Word then thats the time to say …No!Example : Your unsaved freind/family member asks you to go for a drink with them to a bar..Your conscience screams at you …this would be a good time to obey God and not man…maybe a poor example, but you get the picture.Hope this answers your questions …Great post by the way dale

  3. I think it simply means”watch what YOU do in the presence of another” We are witnesses in EVERYTHING we do. I think it simply means when we are around others, weither believers or not, we need to be careful with what we do. Is it hard, YES, but we need to be a witness FOR Christ around others not against Him. In the privacy of your own home, I don’t think it necessarly applys unless it is something that actually harms your body, then it shouldn’t be done PERIOD. I guess this verse is mainly talking to believers around other believers, I’m really not sure. In that aspect I think it is saying as a MATURE believer that has learned how to understand the meat of God’s Word and not on just the milk of the word, we have a better understanding of God’s word than a new believer that is still on the milk, they are a “baby Christian” and don’t understand the deeper meanings of God’s word. I think it basically comes down to how you treat your brother, do we trully treat them as ourself. Here is a post I did a while back with excerps from one of the chapters. It is an excellent book and I would recomend reading it. It’s “What Jesus Demands From The World” by John Piper. This was dealing with treating our neighbor as ourself.I think the verse you quote here ties in greatly with just how we live the life God gave us. Hope this helps some. God’s blessings to you!~Grampy~

  4. theatrestarr says:

    @keynee – i agree with what you said… it’s like you wouldn’t offer a diabetic candy but if you didn’t know they were diabetic, you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong – to me it’s more a case of tempting someone when you know they are weak in that are… i think – i could be wrong…

  5. lookin4Jesus says:

    These are excellent questions and ones that I have wrangled with also. After studying this chapter for quite some time now I have come to these conclusions and I am willing to be corrected, and would love to hear other’s comments; these are just my thoughts. Paul is talking about eating meat that formerly was considered unclean by the old law, and some still could not understand the new covenant. They felt they were sinning if they ate meat and I still think today we must live by our conscience ~ “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” ~ if I do something that my conscience tells me is wrong I would still be sinning against the Spirit’s prompting and working in me. If a strong Christian ate the “wrong meat” in front of a weak brother it could destroy his faith and cause him to neglect the call of the Spirit of the new way or Christ. The difference I see in this and in the petty things we wrangle with today is the origin of the problem. This was a law established by God, not by man. We don’t read Paul telling them they should wash their hands just so, or make long their fringes, or cut their hair just so. He was talking of issues that were considered sin issues. We just can’t please everyone in all the little prejudices and preferences, and I don’t think God calls us to that. A little illustration of what I’m trying to say might be this ~ say a new brother had been an alcholic and I knew it really wasn’t sin to drink, so I drank in front of the alcoholic thereby tempting him to sin, because for him he could not take the first drink or he might fall back into alcoholism. That would definitely weaken him and could cause him to sin. I think this passage is speaking of causing someone to sin rather than just a personal offense.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In the context of the chapter I think it is saying that we should be sensitive to those around us.  If I have someone over for dinner and I want to serve wine with dinner but I know the person coming over is strongly opposed to alcohol then I should not serve the wine.  There is nothing really wrong with it and the serving of the wine will bring no real harm but the act of doing so could offend that person so why do it?  It could ruin our chance for real fellowship or a chance to share the Gospel.That is my simple mind’s take on it anyway.

  7. This is a real interesting one…. I like what a lot of your other commentators have said.I also try and apply this too my clothes.As a woman what I wear ‘could’ cause a man to stumble.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am no great beauty and after 5 babies my body is NOT what it was…. but I still do try to apply this principle, I will often ask my husband if something is ok to go out in for this purpose.x

  8. homefire says:

    Some great responses!  Thank you all for your input. 

  9. msmarie0106 says:

    Looks like I am late in getting around to reading this, but you have had some wonderful responses here.  I have enjoyed reading them as much as the post.IMHO,  it means that we should be listening to our conscience as the Lord speaks to us.  If we start to do something that we ourselves question, perhaps the Holy Spirit is speaking to us.  I think this is individual to each person, and also, individual to each person’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  But again, I loved all the responses you got.  Will have to read through them again!


  11. fwren says:

    I tend to agree with lookin4Jesus in that it is something that would cause someone to sin ~ can’t imagine it having to do with trivial preferences.  To stumble would be to sin, I would think ~ ??

  12. BooksForMe says:

    I didn’t read the previous Comments, so I apologize if I’m repeating what someone else has already said.I think that at first reading this verse can almost seem unfair.  “Am I brother’s keeper?”  “Why is up to me to keep him from stumbling?”  So, I think it’s good to look at the whole passage and understand what this is really about, and I think it’s really all about love.  In verse 15 Paul says:15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love.  Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.When we love our brother, as we would have him love us, than we are going to be willing to put down that which would cause him to stumble.  I think verse 19 makes it really clear that Paul is exhorting us to look at the big picture, the greater thing, which is not our liberty to drink wine or eat bacon, but the fact that Christ died for that one.  Christ’s love for that one should be more important to us than our dietary freedom.19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.I think it might also be good to remember that this is speaking of meat and drink.  Not everything we do.  Sometimes, I think we can take a scripture and apply it with a broad stroke, but sometimes it’s just what it is and that’s all.  P.S. This verse has NOTHING to do with people-pleasing, BTW.  This is all about love—for Jesus, for the lost, and for our Brothers and Sisters.  Nothing in the Bible encourages us to be people-pleasers.  In fact, it repeatedly commands us to stop trying to please man and only please God.P.P.S. And, as to knowing what causes someone to stumble, I don’t think God expects you know ahead of time or watch for the stumble.  I think He expects you to just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and willing to put others first.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is a tough issue.  I think that if we simply do our best to follow the Lord and make His Word the guiding influence in our lives, then, most of the time, we should be ok.  We just need to remember that there will be some people who are offended by displays of godly love and behavior, just as there were some people who were offended by Jesus.  If we are attuned to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (which is something I still struggle with), then He will let us know if there is something else we need to do in regards to another believer.

  14. homefire says:

    I think it might also be good to remember that this is speaking of meat and drink.  Not everything we do.@BooksForMe –   Really?  I realize that’s the main idea, but it does say “or do anything…”  And I agree with those who’ve said that this not about piddly things, only something that makes the person actually sin against God–however, I don’t always know what is leading them to sin!  My glass of wine, my careless attire, my choice of movie….Any of those could conceivably lead someone to believe they could handle similar things when they can’t.  For them, those same choices could lead to drunkenness, lust, or pornography, while to me they are no big deal.  I just think it is a caution to all of us that, while we are free in Christ, we need to keep a sensitivity about what might be a challenge to others.  And while I can’t predict what is a problem for whom, it probably should make me careful to limit what I share with those I don’t know well.Just as an example, once dh and I entertained guests who we knew only casually and offered them a glass of wine.  We were amazed when the man’s response was to gently admonish us that we shouldn’t do that.  We still have no idea whether this man has a problem with alcohol, but know that his father did, so his response makes sense.  It made quite an impression, and we have been much more careful since then, believe me!

  15. I heard a minister of the Gospel giving another man advice on this very subject. To sum it up in a few words he said if the person is a new “baby convert” he is very careful what he does but, if its people who have been christians for a long time than he doesn’t worry about it. His example was interesting. The new “baby” was offended because they were going to eat out for lunch on Sunday after church and because of his offense they went home and ate. I was encouraged by this because I had felt for a long time that this scripture was abused to keep others in control and it was such a relief to have another view point that even made sense and was freeing, actually. (I too am a pleaser.) We are careful even around older, stronger Christians if we know how they feel about things that we view differently, but, its because we don’t want to lose the friendship ties and we respect them.

  16. AngelAware says:

    I, feel……..That when we know that someone has a seriouse problem with something say …like… drinnking, and we kow there an alcoholic, I dont think I should have a glass of wine with them. Even if I know a glass of wine is ok, I always feel like I am being  a bad influence…Im dwelling in it with them. If I have a glass of wine with my best friend, I feel different….its no big deal.  But then when My kids see me drinking wine…..I again get conflicted….I feel like I am teaching them its ok to drink. I believe…..The Holy Spirit talks to me and when He knows my kids could have a potential to be an alcoholic hes warning me to not do this. The Holy Spirit is My Jimminy Cricket so to speak.  Thats an easy one for me LOL    But The eating meat part???? I always say…what does that mean?? How does meat cause anyone to stumble?   Is the Bible talking about someone who is fasting??

  17. AngelAware says:

    One more thing ok?…….Becare not to change the things you do or who you are because a man tells you  “You should not do that”  Sometimes some people can get caught up in rules and regulations and bring on false condemnation.

  18. To stumble I would think would be to sin or to fall in one’s faith… What about gossip, slander, negative speech, unkind words? Let’s bring it a little closer… 

  19. I’m not sure I get your question… If you love God wholly, you will do things only for Him. So wouldn’t you help the people around you to refrain from sin for HIM? We should love people simple because we love God, and He created them and loves them. So we wouldn’t be helping the people around us to please them, but because God wants us to. To show them the way to God and continue His purposes. Does what I’m saying make sense?

  20. homefire says:

    @AngelAware – The passage is referring to people who ate meat that had been offered to idols.  It would be fine for a Christian to eat those things, since they weren’t worshiping the idols and the sacrifice was meaningless to them.  However, to a new Christian who still had a temptation to go back to the idols, eating that meat would feel like a sin because of their associating it with that, so to them it would be a bad thing to do.(Hmmm..  Not sure I did a very good job of explaining that–anyone else want to try?)I have wondered too if it is fine for my children to see me drinking.  I guess the answer I’ve settled on is that if they see me partying/getting drunk, then it is definitely a bad influence, but if they only see me having a glass of wine at bedtime, hopefully they see that there is a responsible way to use alcohol.  And it would certainly be even worse if I sneaked around to drink and they found out–certainly don’t want to teach them that behavior!@esperanzaenDios – “gossip, slander, negative speech, unkind words”  So very true!  It’s certainly not just about eating and drinking!  And gossip, etc, is a very good example of an area where it really affects us today, because it’s really hard to listen to a conversation like that without joining in.  Definitely a temptation for many of us to stumble!  @stampingranny – “because we don’t want to lose the friendship ties and we respect them”  –definitely there is a lot to be said for that.  And you automatically do those things when there is mutual respect.@firstofall_27 – I didn’t get t the first time I read it, but I think I do now.  You’re saying that pleasing these people is incidental, because we are doing it “as to the Lord,” right?  That’s a good point.  I think I got a little confused in my thinking as I read this and lost sight of that. And Esperanza is right–it’s not trying to conform to their every whim, but only avoiding things that are actually leading them into sin.  So it’s not the same as people-pleasing!

  21. Yeah, basically, that’s what I meant. =]

  22. cereneone says:

    I think Lookin4Jesus and Booksforme said it well.  I will not add any more. πŸ™‚

  23. Hutch5 says:

    good. good stuff here. thanks for bringing something so “sensitive” to light… so much – no, ALL of what we do and do not do is based upon the attitude we do it in. i loved what homefire said about there being a difference between sin & a preference. Amen and Amen!just a personal testimony on this though…  the Lord has shown me that there are also times when i need to be willing to set my personal preferences aside in order to not offend. to me – clothing has been a big one here – and i’m STILL learning. but if i’m KNOWINGLY going to be around someone that i am well aware is offended at a certain something i might wear… i choose not to. well.. i’ll be honest – not always. πŸ™‚ but i feel many times that the Lord has brought the verse, “as much as is possible live peaceably w/ all men…” just b/cause i have freedom to do something does not mean that the Lord gives me freedom ALL the time – – sometimes it has nothing whatsoever to do w/ the other person… as i’ve often focused w/ an attitude of “i’ll not them dictate my life..” instead it’s more about what Christ is teaching ME… to examine my own motives. my own heart attitude of why i do what i do. if something is b/cause i truly feel God has given me freedom to – then the times He asks me to set those freedoms aside should be okay too~ again – still learning. :)everyone’s comments are great. so much truth here. thanks.  

  24. Hutch5 says:

    *edit* to above – – meant to say “loved what lookin4Jesus said…” not that i didn’t like all you shared too… πŸ™‚ was just referring specifically to her comment. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ 

  25. homefire says:

    @Hutch5 – Thanks for your input and your honesty.  I think surely everyone can relate that to that little rebellious feeling of “not letting them dictate my life!”  So true that it is all about your heart, and that little rebellion is straight from the heart, too.     Appreciate your perspective! 

  26. @homefire – I think you summed it up all very nicely!Thanks for coming by my site and the friends invite.  I look forward to getting to know you better.

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