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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Words of Encouragement
Romans 14:13
Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

In our hyper-sensitive culture, it has become rather easy to misunderstand what Paul is talking about when he warns the Romans "never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Some people think that this constitutes a license to scream "You're offending me!" at any brother or sister in Christ who has some form of piety they disapprove of. But that is not what Paul means. To "cause someone to stumble" in Paul's thought is not to do something another Christian finds disagreeable but to do something another Christian finds a temptation to sin. Paul emphasizes repeatedly that we are free in Christ. As Catholics, we are, for instance, free to drink wine (within reason) and not bound by the condemnation of other Christians who regard any consumption of alcohol whatsoever as intrinsically sinful. If, therefore, a fellow believer attacks you or your faith merely because you exercise this liberty, Paul's verse is addressed to them. They must abandon passing judgment on you and you were under no obligation to regard their condemnation as "the word of the Lord". On the other hand, if your exercise of liberty constitutes a source of temptation to someone else (who is, for example, a recovering alcoholic), you are bound by the law of love to put no needless temptations in their path. For Paul then, the point is always love, not lawsuits. Take a moment today to see how you can live out the law of love.

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