Sacrifice for Unity
The point the author is trying to make is that we should lead our lives in such a way that it fosters unity and edification of whatever community we find ourselves in. Our main opposition in this pursuit is not actually food, as the verse states, but it is selfish desire. Selfish desire would drive us to seek out our own comforts at the expense of the work God is doing in the life of someone around us. For the sake of unity and the edification and strength of the body of Christ, we ought to deny ourselves certain comforts or luxuries that may cause another to stumble in the walk of faith.
Freedom in Intimacy with God
Our lives are to be an example, not just to people who do not yet believe in who Jesus is, but also to other believers, so that they may be encouraged and led to be more like the image of Christ. The influence of our example as Christians can have just as much, if not more, of an impact on other believers as it would on non-believers. In which case, if another believer witnesses you displaying questionable behavior, you may inadvertently lead them astray and cause them to stumble or fall in their faith. Which is why Paul encourages us to keep matters that could be seen as questionable between ourselves and God, who knows our heart, rather than before others, who may only be able to witness our actions and not fully understand our heart behind them.
Where's Your Focus?
I think the big question God is asking us through this passage, and we need to continually be asking ourselves throughout each day is, where is our focus? Are we focused on ourselves and living in whatever way we want with no consideration for the well-being of those around us? Or are we focused on the greater community that surrounds us, and living our life in a way that strengthens and builds up other believers in that community. I challenge you to look at the different areas of your life and consider what ways you might be able to refine the impact and influence you are having on other believers, to inspire greater unity and stability in the body of Christ.
That we would be willing to let go of the selfish desires we have in our heart, which are actively hurting or just simply not acting to benefit the body of Christ. That we would be given new eyes to see God's perspective, and understand that the well-being of other believers around us ought to be a greater priority than little things that we selfishly desire for ourselves.
- Will Goodwin