Stumbling-Blocks? Romans 14:1-23

Text:  “...But judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
Romans 14:13.

Good morning, potential Christian stumbling-block!  Everyone who professes the Name of Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord - the writer included - can be a potential ‘stumbling-block’ to other believers.

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  (Matthew 26:41)

Disputes and bickerings within the universal Body of Christ, the true Church, are one of the greatest causes of Spiritual hindrance today.  The Church desires to do great things in the service of our Redeemer King, Jesus the risen Christ, yet we find our power coming in short bursts instead of a steady flow of world-shaking energy which might threaten to turn the world upside down.

“And if a house (i.e. the Church) be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25)

One section of the Church, the universal Body of Christ - all those truly born again of the Spirit of God; by grace alone; through faith alone; in the Cross of Christ Jesus alone - believes fervently in speaking in other tongues, while another believes Biblical ‘tongues’ are proper languages. 

One demands that women wear hats, and forbids females wearing ‘...clothes pertaining to the male...’.  The other welcomes women wearing trousers and devoid of any head-covering – believing that the woman’s hair is her ‘covering’. (Deuteronomy 22:5)     
(1 Corinthians 11:5-6)

One believes that The Lord’s Table should be administered every Lord’s Day, while another disagrees and administers The Lord’s Table once per month. 

Both believing groups of Christians reckon these differences in doctrinal interpretation to be serious issues of separation, and thus, the Body of Christ is divided over secondary doctrines, and consequently weakened against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Each group of believers pray fervently, but their prayers may well be hindered, according to the Word of God.

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go  thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”  (Matthew 5:23-24)

“Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  (1 Peter 3:7)

Anything that hinders the prayers of God’s people needs to be dealt with immediately, that the Church may go forth in God’s full strength and not in the strength of our own fallible flesh.

I believe today’s Bible passage deals with the need to have mutual respect for another Christian’s sincerely held beliefs - as long as that belief is not recognized heresy, or a denial of a fundamental doctrine of “...the faith once delivered unto the saints...”.  (Jude 3)

As our passage today clearly teaches: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” (V.19)

It is so easy to be a serious stumbling-block to Christian power and the vibrant growth of the universal Church.  It is much more difficult to build up than to tear down a believer’s faith in an unseen Lord God - for “ is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

However, as our selected text from Romans 14: instructs us, the Lord thinks it a serious matter when we, as Christians, “...put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in a brother/sister’s way.” (V.13)

With the above lesson in mind, therefore, let us seek to encourage each other in the Body of Christ, and pray unhindered prayers to God.  Let us pray unhindered prayers that we might all be built up in our God-given faith, by the Word of God, and by sound Christian support for each other in Christ’s Body, the Church.  Let us go forth in unified power and claim all for the glory of Christ Jesus.  (Romans 10:17) (Romans 16:27)

Thought: Are you a stumbling-block or a stepping-stone to faith?

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