I love to watch buildings get demolished. It’s very exciting! You can sit and watch a building being built for an entire day, and the building site will basically look the same at the end of the day as it did that morning. But when a demolition crew takes down a building, it happens fast!
Read Romans 14:13-18. Focus on verse 13.
Describe the stumbling blocks referred to in the text. Can you think of other stumbling blocks?
What does the Bible say that people should stumble over? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 1:23.)
How has someone been a stumbling block to you in your journey of faith? How have you been a stumbling block to someone else? Explain.
Why is it a problem if you know something you’re doing is keeping others from growing in their faith and you choose to keep doing it?
Whom are we serving when we avoid doing something we feel is acceptable before God in order to not be a stumbling block for others? Explain.
I don’t know why I like to watch things being demolished, but I do know that watching lives get demolished is no fun at all. Just like a building, a life can get demolished in a hurry. A careless comment here, a thoughtless remark there, or a “helpful” criticism every so often, and friendships that took years to build can fall apart in an instant. When you are tempted to exercise your “gift” of criticism, don’t. Our task as believers is to encourage and edify each other, not tear each other down. Believe it or not, your criticism can become a stumbling block in another believer’s life that causes his or her spiritual growth to stall or even stop. Don’t spend your time and your words creating pitfalls for other believers. Encourage and speak the truth in love when the Spirit leads you!
Have you ever watched preschoolers fight over something silly like a crayon or an old broken toy? One of them will pick it up, and the other one will swear that it is his. Then the shouting starts, followed by the screaming, then the pushing, and finally, the crying.
How did something so small get so blown out of proportion? The sad fact, though, is that we’re really not that different from the preschoolers.
Read Romans 14:5-12, making note of verse 10.
What kinds of disagreements were the people in this passage having?
Since we are all living (and dying) and eating (and not eating) for the Lord, what should our attitudes be? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 10:31.)
Why should we avoid criticizing and looking down on other believers?
What do you find yourself criticizing other believers about? Why? Is it really important, or are you making a big deal out of something insignificant?
In the Christian life, there are some things worth fighting for. Jesus is God. Jesus rose from the dead. God created all things. Jesus is the only way to salvation. God is three-in-one.
Be ready to stand firm on those things, but know that there are also things that we don’t need to fight over. Sometimes, we can make a big deal out of something insignificant. Many believers have lost good relationships and some churches have split because of this.
When you have a disagreement with another believer, search the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom to distinguish between the things that are of first importance and the things on which you can agree to disagree.
I love to watch baseball. I love to watch big league games on TV and the Internet, and I love to go to the local stadium to watch the minor leaguers, too. But those are two very different experiences. The minor league games are great because the tickets are cheap, the seats are close to the field, and it doesn’t take a long time to find a parking space. But the minor league players are simply not good enough for the big leagues, and it would be silly to go to minor league games expecting to see major league talent.
Read Romans 14:1-4, thinking carefully about verse 1.
At the end of chapter 13, Paul had instructed believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” How does that instruction apply to these verses?
In these verses, Paul instructs us to accept believers who are weak. Why should we accept weak believers?
Christians are described as household slaves. Whose slave are we? Does it make you uncomfortable to think of yourself as a slave? Why or why not?
What do these verses teach you about treating others who aren’t as strong in their faith as you are?
Have you ever met another believer and been surprised by the way they acted? Maybe they only used a certain translation of the Bible or thought that watching TV or listening to rock music was sinful. While we ought to hold one another accountable and encourage each other toward Christlikeness, keep in mind that while as believers in Christ we are all walking the same path, not everyone is at the same level. Just like those minor league players shouldn’t be expected to play like big leaguers, new and immature Christians shouldn’t be judged for being immature. Instead we should come alongside them and encourage them to grow in their faith. Whom can you encourage today?