October 22, 2018

Romans 14:13-14… Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but decide to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know, and am persuaded in the lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean of itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it is unclean.

            This is a most unusual statement by the apostle Paul. It seems to encourage individuals to have opinions. Decades ago, when I was in my 20s, we had a question that we asked ourselves, “Is this an opinion or a conviction?” We chose to not hold tightly to opinions but to cling to convictions. In contest, today’s verses aren’t speaking to that dilemma. This whole chapter speaks to one dilemma… judging. Much judgment takes place in the arena defined by opinions. We have opinions about acceptable behavior and we hold those opinions as truths, judging others actions. Today, we learn that Paul allows, and even encourages, opinions, but does not allow judgment according to those same opinions.

            I will now walk out on thin ice to being this into our arenas. Karla and I enjoy good wine. To enjoy wine, one must drink it. We have had some friends, one pastor in particular, who would not drink wine. We had a wine frig in our house and it had wine in it. When we had a gathering in our house that included the pastor, we made no attempt to hide the wine, but we did not offer it to the guests at that gathering. We honored the opinion of the pastor and he honored our opinion by not making a big deal about it and by allowing many gatherings at our house.  

            There are certain elements of truth that are never negotiable and not affected by opinion. For example, Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me.” No matter what you think about that statement, it remains Truth. But, conversely, “Have some wine with dinner” is not that rigid. By faith, be convinced about your opinion. For every opinion, have a higher desire… that another person is not adversely affected by your freedom. Wine, in and of itself, is not a stumbling block. For some, watching you drink it is a stumbling block. Guard against that issue.