“If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
“Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself… For I tell you that Christ became a servant.”
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Romans 14:15-21; 15:1-3a,8a; 16:17-19
Whom we serve determines motivation, preferences, and actions, which over time determine longer-term outcomes. When we serve self, we are blind to Christ’s example and can’t be bothered by the weaknesses of others, often to the deterioration of relationships and the harm of nascent faith. Our willingness (and desire) to eat, drink, and do everything in order to serve Christ and His ends indicates a heart captivated by His sacrifice for us. (Matthew 20:28)
We cannot serve ourselves and the Lord and His people. Selfishly giving in to the lusts of eye and flesh is destructive to body and souls; greed and gluttony do not upbuild our neighbor. Why is it so important to get our way? What honor does it give Christ, what benefit to others, for us to boast our rights? Is it really more important for us to assert our freedoms in Christ than to love others and promote peace in Him? (Matthew 6:24; James 4:2-4; 1 John 2:16)
Where have we grown myopic in daily orientation and living, and calloused to the needs and fragile faith of those around us? Do we indulge and operate with an air of spiritual superiority, unable to recognize where we might cause another to stumble? What swagger or self-pleasing need we confess in order to be free to love, bear with, and upbuild our brothers? (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
My good Master, keep me serving You first, and others in Your name. May I follow Your example of laying down preferences, rights, and life for the sake of Your people and magnification of Your glory. (Philippians 2:2-8)