We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with Romans 14. Paul begins encouraging the Gentiles not to judge their Jewish brothers who were weak in faith and still kept the Jewish laws regarding eating certain foods and observing special days.
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
v. 1-4 (NASB)
It’s like when a new believer comes to know Christ, they don’t instantly change all their old ways. Romans 1:17 says, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (KJV).” We grow in Christ as our faith grows in Him.
Paul continues to explain:
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.
For it is written,
“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
v. 5-12 (NASB)
We may not think this applies to us because Paul is talking about the Jewish law and traditions, but I believe the overall message is still the same today. We aren’t to despise our brothers and sisters who are weaker or stronger in faith by judging them based on what they do or do not do. For example, God reminded me recently not to critically judge when I pointed out to my husband how inappropriate a Christian woman on television dressed. God humbled me when my husband replied, “She dresses how you used to dress.” The longer I’ve been walking with Christ, the more I tend to forget how I used to be and how much God has changed me. When I was weaker in faith, I didn’t need someone criticizing me and looking down on me because of the way I dressed. I needed to know who I was in Christ. I needed to know I was righteous in Him. As I learned who I was in Christ, my faith grew and my actions began to change because of His Holy Spirit working in me, not because of someone criticizing me.
Paul continues to explain that when we critically judge one another we put a stumbling block in their way and actually make it harder for them to grow.
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
v. 13-23 (NASB)
We are to pursue the things which make for peace and help each other grow in the Lord, not seek to tear one another down and hinder each other from growing in Him.
We praise You for transforming us from glory to glory, from faith to faith. Let us pursue righteousness, peace and joy in Your Holy Spirit, and seek to build our brothers and sisters up instead of tearing them down and hindering them from being transformed into Your image. This coming New Year, may we all experience the liberty that Jesus’ died to give us.
In His precious name we pray, Amen!
but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NASB)
*This series will continue next Monday as we study Romans 15. Have a blessed New Year being transformed into the image of Christ!