13 Let us stop judging one another. Instead, decide not to put anything in the way of a brother or sister. Don’t put anything in their way that would make them trip and fall. 14 I am absolutely sure that nothing is “unclean” in itself. The Lord Jesus has convinced me of this. But someone may consider a thing to be “unclean.” If they do, it is “unclean” for them. 15 Your brother or sister may be upset by what you eat. If they are, you are no longer acting as though you love them. So don’t destroy them by what you eat. Remember that Christ died for them. 16 So suppose you know something is good. Then don’t let it be spoken of as if it were evil. 17 God’s kingdom is not about eating or drinking. It is about doing what is right and having peace and joy. All this comes through the Holy Spirit. 18 Those who serve Christ in this way are pleasing to God. They are pleasing to people too. 19 So let us do all we can to live in peace. And let us work hard to build up one another. 20 Don’t destroy the work of God because of food. All food is “clean.” But it’s wrong to eat anything that might cause problems for someone else’s faith. 21 Don’t eat meat if it causes your brother or sister to sin. Don’t drink wine or do anything else that will make them sin. 22 Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the person who doesn’t feel guilty for what they do. 23 But whoever has doubts about what they eat is guilty if they eat. That’s because their eating is not based on faith. Everything that is not based on faith is sin.
I was thinking about what it means to be a friend in my quiet time today. So when I read this passage it also spoke to me about how to be a good friend. Back in the time when this was written people were choosing to eat things that had been previously forbidden because Jesus had set them free from such rules. However, it was leading to confusion for some.
Here Paul reminds us that being a friend, loving and caring for someone should come way before me being right about a particular matter. One of the sentences in this passage from The Message version says …
‘When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus.’
This applies in all we do – we should always be sharing the amazing impact Jesus has on us with those we are interacting with. Not aiming to get what we need or want out of a situation. This doesn’t mean we are always talking about Jesus. By this I mean that, because Jesus enables us to feel loved and accepted, we should do and say things that make other people feel loved and accepted in a way that points to Jesus. Being a great friend, thinking about others, is an awesome way to live life. Our life story will be much more interesting and rewarding if there are more people in it – people who feel loved and accepted and helped to be the best they can be.
Dear Lord help us to be great friends. Teach us how to connect with You well so we can have the capacity and confidence to trust that You will supply all our needs allowing us to concentrate on loving others with the love You have for each of us. Thank You.
Written by Therese Manning