On Drinking Alcohol: Possible Dangers
In my blog On Drinking Alcohol: My Personal Stand and Practice, I have shown why I believe that drinking is not a sin, and have presented my personal practice. In this blog, I’ll be discussing 2 dangers that relate to this issue (and I’m not referring to the danger of getting drunk; that’s quite obvious and I trust you know what to do about it). The dangers I want to discuss are passing judgment on others, and causing others to stumble. I’ll be referring to Romans 14 (Tim Challies said in his blog that drinking is a Romans 14 issue. I agree).
Passing Judgment on Others
Let’s deal with the first danger first. Some believers, especially those belonging to the older generation, abstain from drinking alcohol, thinking that it is unwise to drink. Some believers, this time mostly belonging to the younger generation, drink alcohol, believing that they are under grace and are free to do whatever they want (as long, of course, as it’s not sinful).
Now, the first group (and I want to call them the legalist group [Of the term legalist, I’m not referring to those who work to earn salvation. I’m referring to a strict adherence to a code or practice.]) may look down on the other group, who are thought of abusing the grace and freedom given them. The second group (and I will refer to them as the grace group) may also look down on the other group, who are believed to be bounded by their legalism.
None of the two groups, however, are doing right. Let’s look at Romans 14:2-4:
2One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Clearly, those who eat anything shouldn’t pass judgment on those who abstain from certain food, and vice versa. So the one who drinks alcohol shouldn’t despise the one who abstains from it, and vice versa. For the one who drinks does so in honor of the Lord, and the one who abstains does so also in honor of the Lord (v.6). Therefore, let’s not pass judgment on one another (v.13).
Causing Others to Stumble
Let’s deal with the second danger. While we are not passing judgment on others, we must also “decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (v.13). Some drinkers know that there is nothing sinful with drinking, and they do a good practice of it. However, some aren’t sensitive to others. They don’t regard those brothers who have weak faith, who believes in the abstinence of alcohol but does so in honor of the Lord.
I like how Paul puts it:
15For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. (v.15, emphasis added)
20Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (vv.20-21, emphases added)
If we are causing others to stumble by our drinking, we are no long walking in love. And indeed, we must not, “for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.” So we must be sensitive to the people around us, to those who see us. If some aren’t comfortable seeing us drink alcohol even though it’s not necessarily sinful, then it’s better to put down that bottle of beer or glass of wine than cause them to stumble. Besides, no one really loses if you refrain from drinking for their sake.
Again, “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God,” for “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”