“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” (Romans 14:19-21).
Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 13.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them” (Romans 14:1-3). The apostle Paul opens Romans 14 building on his message of love and fellowship among believers. Paul addresses principles to guide God’s people in dealing with matters of secondary importance, but no less, the kinds of things that often cause conflict and division. In this context, the Christian whose faith is weak was often a converted Jew who still had scruples about eating traditionally unclean foods, or perhaps, still looked on the Sabbath as a day of obligation (14:5). Paul instructed that such a person should be received into fellowship, nonetheless, without disputing such petty disagreements. Concerning these questions of conscience, Paul asserts: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand” (Romans 14:4).
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean” (Romans 14:13-14). As opposed to sitting in judgment of our fellow Christians, we should resolve not to do anything to hinder a fellow believer in their spiritual progress. Unlike the matters of morality addressed in earlier chapters, none of these rise to the importance to even risk causing a fellow brother or sister to fall. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall” (Romans 14:19-21). Seeing as each of us will give an account of ourselves to God, let us not condemn ourselves by what we approve or disapprove. We know that God is working in the life of each one of His children, and we ought not hinder that good work over things as food and drink.
Romans 14 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Romans 14 speaks into our lives today; we are not called to bicker over inconsequential matters; instead, we should make every effort to maintain peace and harmony within the fellowship of believers. Paul must be understood in the proper context when he says that there is nothing unclean in itself, for there are plenty of things in this world, which are quite unclean, such as pornography, to name one. But even in addressing grievous matters of immorality, the objective of discipline is restoration, and the motivation is love (1 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1). Until next time, and Romans 15!
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