13 For that reason, we must no longer criticize one another, but instead determine never to impede or trap a brother. 14 I know and have been persuaded in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean. 15 Because if your brother or sister is distressed by what you are eating, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by your choice of food someone for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let your good deed be blasphemed. 17 Because the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Because the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people. 19 So then, let us chase what makes for peace and for building up one another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. Because although all things are clean, it is wrong to cause anyone to stumble by what you eat. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The confident faith you have, keep to yourself before God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the one who is doubting is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not done from faith is sin.
awareness of the other way
Paul had drawn lines of distinction between two groups of Christian believers. Both groups contain brothers in Christ. Paul encourages those who consider themselves strong in their faith not to take advantage of their confidence by doing something in open fellowship that people in the other group would consider sinful.
This generation of evangelicals seems to be pushing the envelope in its daring to break free from old traditions. Anyone who does things the old fashioned way or holds to old taboos is seen as outdated and prudish. The pendulum has swung back toward libertarianism in our ranks, especially in the newer mega-churches.
Paul has a word of warning for us. Not all of our members are as strong as we think they are. By our insistence on breaking free from all self-imposed chains, we are leading some of our saints to do things they recognize as sin.
Paul teaches his readers to maintain an awareness of the other way of thinking about our actions. That will keep them from doing things that perpetuate the mutual criticisms of the two groups, and foster disunity.
LORD, before we act, show us how our actions will be conceived by those who disagree with us. Help us to stay true to our mutual master, and each other.