I spent some time examining Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10 due to a personal matter I am contemplating and thinking over. But in the process of doing so, I composed a list of principles from this passage that I thought I might as well share for the benefit of anyone who might find this summary helpful. Here goes:
- Certain matters that are not really ‘issues,’ and in which one may have ‘rights,’ are considered ‘issues’ by some due to associations.
- Make use of God’s blessings.
- Avoid idolatrous and sinful practices.
- The ‘weak’ (in conscience) are not to judge the ‘strong.’
- ‘Strong’ (in conscience) are not to despise the ‘weak.’ The ‘strong are to avoid arrogance due to such knowledge.
- One’s liberty is not to be determined by another’s conscience. But one’s exercise of such liberty is.
- Everyone must be convinced. Violation of conscience is sin.
- Decisions are to be oriented around what honors God. Do all to God’s glory.
- Be aware that there are some matters in which one has a ‘right’ but may not be beneficial.
- Everyone will give an account to God.
- Exercising ‘rights’ does not necessarily equal doing what is loving.
- Avoid causing others to stumble, i.e., encouraging others with weak consciences to do likewise, which for them would be sin (i.e., a violation of conscience).
- Causing another to stumble is sinning against them and against Christ who died for them.
- Due to potentially offending others, keep certain matters between you and God.
- Pursue what is loving, brings peace and harmony, and builds others up.
- Do not allow anything to be a hindrance to the cause of the gospel of Christ, so that more might be converted.
- Become “all things to all people” (specifically in terms of evangelism in this context)–contextualize, accommodate.
* Note: Some of these principles seem to conflict with or be in tension with other principles in this list. This predicament seems to be best explained by the fact that Paul prioritizes certain principles above others (e.g., in 1 Cor 9 Paul states that he indeed has ‘rights’—a principle—but doesn’t exercise them for certain reasons, i.e., higher prioritized principles).
* Note: Paul tells the ‘weak’ to respect the liberty of the ‘strong’ and the ‘strong’ to accommodate the ‘weak.’ According to these dual instructions, if either category (i.e., the ‘weak’ or ‘strong’) fulfills their particular instruction, harmony will exist. It is only when neither group defers to the other group that conflict will arise, although Paul would seem to desire both groups to defer to the other.