Love is Your Rule

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 25, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

The phrase “stumbling block” is one of those phrases that you don’t really hear anywhere except the church. If you are not a Christian or don’t go to church often, this may actually be the first time you’ve really heard about it. I mean, seriously, when is the last time you were walking around outside and tripped over a rock, fell on your face, and then immediately got up and thought, “I wonder who put that stumbling block in front of me”? The answer would be never! You’d most likely blame yourself for not seeing the rock and for not stepping over it. If someone did put a block in your path, it would most likely be intentional for the purpose of tripping you. Picture Adam Sandler’s character along with his son in the movie “Big Daddy” as they put a log on the path of the skater to make him trip and fall into the pond!

If someone were intentionally tripping you, I think we could all agree that would not be an act of love. The act would either be out of hate, revenge, or simply that person’s entertainment. The phrase “stumbling block” in the Bible is used to describe such a situation where one believer puts his/her desires ahead of love for another. It might not really be your intention to harm the other person, but your inability to even think about how your actions are affecting them shows that you are not living by a rule of love.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 14:13-18 that we must live by this rule of love when considering our Christian liberty, which he has been talking about so far in this chapter. We are not to be legalistic toward one another and we are not to judge for another person what is right or wrong regarding the “disputable matters." We will all stand before God and he alone will be our Judge regarding how we approached the “gray areas” of our faith. That being said, God is NOT the only one to whom we are responsible. As Paul says, rather than passing judgment on each other, we are to “make up (our) mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (verse 13). That means we have a duty to consider how our choices affect our brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot plead ignorance. It’s something we have to resolve to do out of love for one another.

You may be wondering what it means to put a stumbling block in someone’s way, and you can’t avoid it if you don’t even know what it means. Let me give you some examples from my own life. When I was in college, I dated a girl who lived several hours away and she came to visit me. She and I both knew that we had no intention of any type of sexual immorality when she visited and felt that she could stay in my dorm room without it being a problem. This saved money because we didn’t need a hotel room for her and allowed us to maximize all of our time together when she visited. Once my Christian mentors and leaders from Campus Crusade for Christ, of which I was a part, found out what we were doing, they strongly urged me to consider the greater effect of this choice. They were first concerned about the temptations we were allowing into our lives, but they challenged me to think even bigger. They knew I was a resident assistant (RA), which meant I was a leader on my floor, and they also knew I had been bold about my faith to many of the younger residents. The leaders helped me see that even if my girlfriend and I did everything right behind closed doors, many of those residents would automatically assume we had slept together if they saw her walking out of my room the next morning. This could cause them to believe such behavior between unmarried persons is accepted by God, which could cause them to stumble away from what God wanted for them.

The other example in my life has been regarding alcohol. I was raised to believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with drinking alcohol. However, I have known plenty of friends and believers who struggle to be responsible with their drinking. I’ve also known some who walked away from it completely and have chosen to believe that all alcohol is wrong. I may disagree with that view, but I have a responsibility out of love for those brothers and sisters to not drink or even talk about drinking in their presence.

Paul points out that he is fully convinced that nothing is inherently unclean (verse 14). However, he also understands that the kingdom of God is not really about our choices regarding the disputable matters, but about “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (verse 17). If our choices are not contributing to those things in the lives of other believers, then we must make different choices. Jesus used even stronger words than Paul. He said, “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:1-2). The Greek word for “things that cause people to stumble” in this verse, as well as “obstacle” in Romans 14:13, is “skandalon." In case you don’t see the connection, it’s where we get the English word “scandal." The language from Jesus and Paul is strong because we need to take this very seriously.

Don’t take your Christian liberty regarding “disputable matters” for granted, because that liberty is never a license to cause a scandal for someone else. Jesus basically tells us that sinful people in a fallen world are bound to take the bait at some point, but we better not be the ones to provide the hook. If you question what decisions you should make in the gray areas of your faith from now on, I urge you to live by the rule of love. Does the thing your faith allows you to accept cause someone else to stumble? If so, give it up for at least the times you know it could affect that person. Remember that Christ was willing to give up his heavenly position and his earthly life for you. In light of his sacrifice, giving up certain foods, alcohol, music, or even having your girlfriend stay somewhere else all seem like small potatoes. They are certainly not worth being thrown into the sea with a millstone around your neck.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.