Reading: Romans 14:13-23
We had gone without pizza for three months when George and my sister came to visit for the weekend. George is my brother-in-law, a standard-issue character and retired trucker of medium build with a small pot belly that doesn't begin to justify the amount of candy, burgers, fries, doughnuts and pizza he consumes almost continually. George thought our new "diet" was funny and the amount of weight Tom lost justified celebration with pizza. He brought it home late one night and waved its hot, greasy goodness under our noses. Rarely are stumbling blocks so overtly obvious or even intentional.
The early church in these passages was divided between those who adhered to certain customs about festivals and foods and those who felt free not to. The rule of thumb Paul gave them was consideration of the other person's convictions and conscience. In our day, this spiritual principle still applies beyond food and drink.
One of my friends wrestled with the purchase of a new car for fear of discouraging fellow believers who were in a difficult spot. Another struggled over the potential excess of owning a large screen television. What they chose to do is not as important as the fact that they questioned their rights and freedoms for the sake of the good of others. They turned George's brand of overt intentional temptation into overt intentional love not to cause fellow believers to stumble. (We didn't eat the pizza.)