(Optional Reading: Romans 14:1-21)
Freedom in Jesus is not to be taken lightly or treated with disrespect. Paul writes about freedom in chapter 14 of Romans. Specifically, Paul is writing about the freedom to eat anything. Christians were not limited to eating only vegetables or only certain meats. Jesus came and fulfilled the law of Moses and, in a way, freed Christians from a strict diet dictating law. This freedom must not be taken lightly though.
Paul continued in chapter 14 to lay out a law of love. This love is a love from Christ. Verse 7 and 8 states, “We don’t live for ourselves and we don’t die for ourselves. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord” (CEB). Our lives are God’s and we need to be living a life of love to those around us, as Jesus did.
This is where freedom comes into play. Paul says not to fight over what food is right or wrong for someone to eat. Rather love someone by not causing conflict or creating stumbling blocks for them. Paul writes,
“So stop judging each other. Instead, this is what you should decide: never put a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister… If your brother or sister is upset by your food, you are no longer walking in love. Don’t let your food destroy someone for whom Christ died. And don’t let something you consider to be good be criticized as wrong. God’s kingdom isn’t about eating food and drinking but about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (vs 13, 15-17 CEB)
Simply put, if it hurts someone, it should be wrong for us. If you know that your brother or sister in Jesus struggles with drinking alcohol and is trying to quick, we should not let our freedom in Jesus say… “Sorry but I am going to drink anyway.” When we respond this way, Paul says we are no longer living in love. It can be anything. If you friend is trying to give up smoking… sugar… video games… swearing… etc, you should lift them up and not create ways for them to stumble.
As Jesus followers, we must live a life of love that is willing to sacrifice our freedom for the sake of others growing closer to Jesus. When we make this sacrifice, we find that we are truly becoming Christ-like in our love.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.