A major area of conflict between peoples of any culture is in the arena of personal rights. Should restrictions be placed on my liberties just because someone else is offended or tempted?
Romans 15:2 deals with the issue of the weaker brother and the stronger brother. Who is supposed to yield to the conviction of the other when there is a disagreement as to right and wrong? The principles guiding the decision of whether to eat meat offered to idols are applicable to many other convictions.
Romans 15:1 states, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The “weak,” those who are “lacking capability in functioning adequately, powerless,” are noted for their “extra strict rules or scruples.” The “weak” in this case are converts who have recently repented of their besetting sins, whose flesh still has a strong grip on them.
If they want to be effective in evangelizing the lost, especially the addicted, eventually they will have to be strong enough to mix with people addicted to all kinds of vices without being tempted. The mark of a strong believer is that he can be around people with such vices and, instead of being influenced to sin, influence them to turn to Christ and find forgiveness and liberation from their sins.
In the meantime, the strong believer must “please his neighbor for his good to build him up.” If working with young believers susceptible to too much drink, then the strong must decide to never drink alcohol again.
Paul wrote, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food [that you are free to eat biblically]. For although all things are pure, it is evil for the man who eats with offense [or who causes another to stumble]. It is good [or better] neither to eat meat [i.e., pork] or drink wine nor to do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak [to temptation]” (Rom 14:20–-21). Are you willing to give up your right to food and habits to help a weaker brother to mature?
“Why do I struggle so much to give up my rights to please those around me? Forgive me for not caring enough to do things for others without seeking some benefit in return.”
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