Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 14:13-23 (NLT)
So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.
Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.
Reflection: Romans 14:13b-23 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
The will of God for changed relationships: (Romans 12:1–15:13)
All believers, irrespective of their ethnic origin, are brothers and sisters in the one international family of God, and so all have precisely the same vocation to be the holy, committed, humble, loving and conscientious people of God.
(Romans 14:1-15:13) Our relationship to the weak: welcoming, and not despising, judging or offending them
If we are trying to picture a weaker brother or sister, we must not envisage a vulnerable Christian easily overcome by temptation, but a sensitive Christian full of indecision and scruples. What the weak lack is not strength of self-control but liberty of conscience.
2. The negative consequences (Romans 14:2–15:13)
(b) Do not offend or destroy the weaker person (14:13b-23)
Two additional theological foundations:
(i) Welcome him because he is your brother for whom Christ died (14–16)
If your brother is distressed (feels grief and even pain) because of what you eat, not only because he sees you doing something of which he disapproves, but because he is induced to follow your example against his conscience, you are no longer acting in love, no longer walking the path of love. For love never disregards weak consciences. Love limits its own liberty out of respect for them.
Paul’s warning is that the strong who mislead the weak to go against their consciences will seriously damage their Christian discipleship. He urges the strong against causing such injury to the weak. Do not allow what you consider good (i.e. the liberty you have found in Christ) to be spoken of as evil, because you flaunt it to the detriment of the weak.
(ii) Welcome him because the kingdom of God is more important than food (17–21)
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…. Our responsibility is to seek to build up the fellowship, not to tear it down. And in particular we must not tear it down for the sake of food.
So it would be evil for the strong to use their liberty to harm the weak. Alternatively, it would be good for the strong (Paul drives the argument to its logical conclusion) to eat no meat and drink no wine, that is, to become vegetarians and total abstainers, and to go to any other extreme of renunciation, if that were necessary to serve the welfare of the weak.
Paul concludes (22–23) by drawing a distinction between belief and action, that is, between private conviction and public behavior.
There is no need either to parade your [private] views or to impose them on other people. As for public behavior, there are two options: 1. The strong Christian is blessed because his conscience approves of his eating everything, so that he can follow his conscience without any guilt feelings. 2. The weak Christian who is plagued with misgivings because his conscience gives him vacillating signals, is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith… is sin.
“Let Your Kingdom Come” – Sovereign Grace
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen