17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
This verse forms part of the pericope entitled ‘Do not cause another to stumble’. In this pericope, Paul is warning against judging which relates to Christians’ attitudes and actions toward the convictions of other believers (vv. 1–12). In this section, Paul warned against causing other Christians to stumble (hindering their spiritual growth) by asserting that one is free to live in accord with convictions not shared by other believers. In Christian love, one ought to forgo one’s liberty in Christ to avoid being a spiritual hindrance to his spiritual brother. If one persists in exercising one’s liberty so that his brother is distressed (grieved, hurt), Paul concluded, then the Christian exercising his or her liberty is no longer acting (walking) in love.
Paul continued by stating, after all, food (as it was the stumbling block in this specific instance) is not that important an issue (1 Cor. 8:8); it is not the sum and substance of the kingdom of God. But righteousness, peace (Rom. 12:16, 18; 14:19) and joy in the Holy Spirit are essentials of Christian fellowship and harmony. A concerned believer insists on right conduct, harmony, and joy rather than forcing his lifestyle on others. As a result, the Christian who serves Christ in this way—in Christian love, pursuing righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—is pleasing to God and approved by men – in contrast with being evil spoken of (Rom. 14:16).
Thoughts for the day
- In what way are you exercising your liberty in Christ that might be an obstacle to another believer?
- What does this passage tell you about God or Jesus?
- What does this passage tell you about humanity?
- What do you feel God is telling you through this passage?
- How can you apply this message in an area of your life that needs transformation?
- Is there anyone you think should hear or will benefit from this message? Go and tell them.