4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. — Romans 15:4-7 NIV
All of the Scriptures, both Old and New are a continuing story of hope. In the Old Testament, the Jews were constantly reminded of the hope they had that God was with them and would deliver them in His timing. The prophets also told of a time when the Messiah would come to deliver not only the Jews but also the Gentiles. The New Testament continues that story of hope with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We still look forward to the time when Jesus will come again to receive all of His children to be with Him in heaven. That is the hope we have that gives us encouragement to endure the time we spend as aliens here on earth. While we are here, we are instructed to follow the example that Jesus set in His time here as a stranger and an alien. We are to accept one another as He accepted us, love each other as He loves us, edify and encourage each other. We do this to bring glory, honor and praise to God, our Father. This is not possible in the flesh unless we mortify the flesh and submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, even unto death, if necessary.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? — Luke 9:23-25 NIV
7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.—1 Cor. 8:7-13 NASB
Paul continues his narrative on whether or not we, as Christians, are free to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The point he is making is that when we exercise our liberty in Christ Jesus, we need to be sure that others are not offended or misled by watching us. Though we have the knowledge that we have liberty because Jesus Christ died to set us free from the law and from sin, others do not have that knowledge. They are accustomed to not eating meat sacrificed to idols because that is what the law has taught them. Just as some of the disciples still taught that you had to be circumcised because they did not yet have the understanding of their freedom in Christ. We, being the stronger, should then give up our freedom to do certain things. Not because the action itself is a sin, but because it causes our brother or sister to stumble and we have sinned against them. Any sin against anyone is a sin against Christ. So we should use our knowledge, spoken in love, to edify our brothers and sisters and not to harm them.