Dragging You Down with Me
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. Romans 14:20-21
A few years ago, I sat listening to two guys, one of whom confessed the struggle that had ruined his life. The second guy didn’t believe this struggle was a real problem and told the first guy that he thought it was all ridiculous. He felt this was a normal behavior and scolded the first guy for feeling bad about it. Defiantly, the second man reported that he wasn’t going to feel remorseful and would absolutely continue the behavior.
I’m honestly not sure how the first guy felt, but I was furious, offended for him. This man was sincerely convicted by God of his sin and the other individual simply dismissed it. I have no idea if the first guy was encouraged to go back to the old life, but that was certainly the message that was communicated. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal. Just give in.
We often do this in exercising our own freedoms. Whether we struggle with a specific behavior or not, if it’s a gray area, we find comfort if others normalize the behavior by participating in it too. Back before I realized I was an addict, when I did drink alcohol, I honestly often wished my wife would drink. Her abstinence only caused me to be more self-conscious about my consumption. If she would have imbibed, it would’ve made things so much easier.
In today’s passage, Paul warned against this. He said that when it comes to those gray areas, we certainly do have some freedom. We must not however, use that freedom to drag our brothers and sisters down. We need to remain sensitive to the reality that those around us may struggle and we must be willing to sacrifice our own freedoms to protect them.
We cannot recover for anyone else, but we do have a responsibility not to sabotage another’s recovery. This of course, isn’t just about alcohol or drugs. Our behavior affects those around us. Continually we must ask ourselves if we’re encouraging our friends, family, and neighbors to follow themselves or if our behavior encourages others to follow Christ. Our words and actions impact those arounds us and we’re absolutely responsible for which way we influence them.