13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Having argued against judging other believers, Paul now turned to the second main discourse in Romans 14, about how our own convictions impact other Christians (vv. 13-23). He addressed mature believers in this passage on how to discretely use their liberty.
“Therefore” calls attention to the subject of the strong believer in liberty judging weak believers (vv. 1-12).
let us not judge one another anymore,
There is a danger of the mature believer growing contemptuous of the legalism of the weak. Mature believers in Rome were doing this and they needed to stop.
It is possible for the strong to flaunt their liberty over the weak (vv. 10-12). The mature believer is to use his best judgment to encourage the weak.
but [strong contrast] rather resolve this,
It is important that the strong believer develop a resolution not to offend the weaker Christian. Paul put the onus on the stronger Christian to make a resolve about the issue of hindering the growth of the weaker believer.
not to put a stumbling block.
Paul used two words to call attention to what could happen to an immature Christian if the stronger Christian does not watch his approach:
A cause to fall
A “stumbling block” is something people trip over. Here the stumbling block for the immature Christian is the liberty that the mature believer has in Christ.
1 Co 8:9, But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
or a cause to fall [downfall] in our brother’s way
A “cause to fall” is an obstacle, trap, snare, or anything that would cause a weak Christian to sin. The Greek for “cause to fall” is the word from which we obtain the English word “scandalize.” If an immature believer were to operate on the liberty of the mature believer, he might yield to a proper sin rather than a doubtful thing. This word was used for a trigger of a trap that would ensnare an animal. The mature can do things that will entrap the immature in sin.
The mature Christian must accommodate the weaker and not the reverse.
It is incumbent on the mature Christian not to do something perfectly legitimate if it violates the conscience of the immature Christian. The principle is that the mature are not to think of how his actions apply to him alone. There are other considerations involved.
The strong believer has more latitude than the weak. Legalism cannot accommodate grace because it puts immature believers in a religious straightjacket. There is an onus on the strong believer not to hinder the spiritual growth of the weak. He is to use proper judgment toward the immature.
The hindrance by the mature believer is not simply a personal offence but real harm to the spiritual lives of weaker Christians. The mature believer might do something that is not wrong in itself but it nevertheless trips the immature Christian.
There is a twofold tension between the grace believer and the legalistic believer. The legalist carries the temptation to brand something as wrong when there is no biblical evidence for it. The grace believer might do something innocent but nevertheless cause an immature believer to stumble.