This being Lent, I thought I’d post the following translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:
Scripture: “Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died” (Rom: 14, 15)
The law which governs our entire life should be love; love should resolve all issues. Our freedom to act must stop at the point where we can upset our brother. St. Paul, fully recognizing that nothing in itself can be impure, nevertheless, out of love for one’s brothers, advises us not to eat meat out of respect for the opinion of others, so as to “not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (Rom: 14, 20). We are free to eat any food despite the opinions of those close to us, but out of love should be ready to deny it to ourselves. We should never forget those close to us, and, getting used to constantly thinking of them, we learn to take them into consideration in everything we do and, remaining free, to subject this freedom to a higher law – the law of love.
This rule is applicable not only to food, but to many things we do. “None of us lives for himself” (Rom: 14, 7): every action influences those close to us either for good or for harm, and has a much greater significance than we assume. If we can “destroy our brother” even through food, then all the more with an unkind word or lie, a harsh judgment, a bad example or bad advice. So “be careful how you act, not like those who are unwise, but those who are wise” (Eph: 5, 15).
This is what Lewis writes in his sermon, “A Slip of the Tongue” (From the “Weight of Glory” collection):
"In a perfect Christian [pleasant duties] would be as much a part of his ‘religion’, his ‘service’, as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts. What cannot be admitted – what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy – is the idea of something that is ‘or own’, some area in which we are to be ‘out of school’, on which God has no claim.
“For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.”
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)