Romans 14:19-23

In Romans 14:19-23 Paul encourages us to chase the good things in life. We need to focus on the things that build one another up. We need to work on the things that matter. “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” If eating or drinking something will cause another brother to stumble, then we are not free to eat or drink in that circumstance. Even if we have the personal liberty, we do not have the liberty to stumble, offend, or weaken a brother. We need to look beyond what we would consider our own rights or choices and consider how they would impact someone else in our patch.

Whether it be food, or drink or anything else we believe is harmless to ourselves, we have to consider the impact on others. “Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.” Paul is clear that there is nothing impure in the food itself; but he likewise insists that there is nothing pure in causing a brother to stumble. We don’t live on this planet or in the Kingdom as a solo entity. We’re part of the body, and we need to be concerned with the ways our choices might impact others. We should never lead a brother or sister astray.

This isn’t about legalism, but about community. We are part of helping each other walk with Christ. We shouldn’t think that Paul would permit this kind of heart to cater to someone’s legalism. This isn’t a legalistic approach. What Paul speaks about is the stumbling of a sincere heart, not catering to the whims of someone’s legalism. “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” For example, when some Christians from a Jewish background were offended that Gentile believers were not circumcised, Paul didn’t cater to their legalistic demands.

If you have [strong] faith, and feel the liberty to partake of certain things, praise God! But have your strong faith before God, not before a brother who will stumble by the choices you make. “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” There are things God may challenge us to give up, but we go on approving them in our life – thus we condemn ourselves. It may not be that the thing itself is clearly good or bad, but it is enough that God speaks to us about the matter. “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” The bottom line is that what we do needs to be based on faith. Anything else is sin! If we are troubled by something, it likely isn’t of faith and likely is sin for us.

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