Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. Romans 14:13

I love the way the Message Bible paraphrases this verse: “Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is.”

Life is often difficult. We really don’t know the difficulties others live with. What relational tensions there may be, what financial restraints people may have, or what spiritual issues others are wrestling with. Paul’s concern is that we don’t make life more difficult for others.

Paul acknowledges that there are “disputable matters” (verse 1). As Christians, we don’t always agree on the issues that govern our behaviour. In Paul’s day, the issues were about eating meat and keeping sacred days. In our day, while the issues are different, our attitude should be the same, which is not to impose our standards or opinions on other people. We are accountable to God for our own actions not the actions of others.

It’s part of God’s plan to teach us tolerance and it’s something Jesus lived out when he chose his disciples. Jesus chose Zealots who believed in armed revolt, tax collectors who cooperated with the Romans, and fishermen in need of anger management. If loving one another was easy it wouldn’t be a sign to the world that we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:35).

This chapter concludes with Paul saying: “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God” (verse 22). Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to keep our opinions to ourselves.