For 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. (ESV)
In our society we are very proud of the freedom that we have. There is good reason for this. Our freedom was purchased at a very great price. With that freedom there needs to be a sense of concern for our fellow man. I walked into a store this morning that had to have a sign outside the door reminding people to "be kind to one another." Freedom needs to be accompanied with compassion.
This concept of using our freedom in a way that considers the needs and concerns of others is even more important in the Church. Paul was writing to a church in Rome that had experienced spiritual freedom. They had been set free from sin and from ritualistic legalism. This had been purchased at a great price. It cost Jesus his life, and many of the disciples at that time had also been martyred.
Freedom in the church at Rome was wonderful. However, Paul was concerned that there were those who were being careless with their freedom. Some Christians believed that all things were made by God and therefore were okay to eat without any guilt. Other Christians, newer in their faith, were appalled to see fellow Christians eating meat that had been offered to idols.
Paul instructs the Christians to act in love when using their freedom. If their use of freedom causes their brother to be grieved, then they need to stop what they are doing. No matter how much a person may feel that they have the "right" to act in freedom, they do not have the right in the kingdom of God to cause distress to a fellow brother or sister in Christ.
In what ways have you seen Christians use their freedom without compassion? What is the proper way to balance freedom with compassion?