Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another
14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we 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.
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? 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 confess to God.”
So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
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. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 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. 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.
Romans 14 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.”Romans 14:1 MSG
The Message translation of this entire chapter is so practical. The topic – grace: grace given to other Believers in regards to their own convictions. Although, Paul is writing in regards to food specifically. Considering his audience, this could be to people purchasing meat at the market who were using a portion of it in a sacrifice to false idols.
The overall message he’s sending addresses what we would call grey areas, where there are no necessary commands from God in regards to these things. His overriding point is to respond to one another in love with areas we may not see eye to eye on. Sometimes this is a matter of where we’re coming from and what areas of our lives provide personal weaknesses or temptations that may not be for another. Other times, these opinions we hold may be due to our own history or baggage we have that cause us to hold the convictions we have.
In the end, Paul reminds the reader that each and every one of us stands before God with the convictions the Holy Spirit has given and how we respond to them. We are individually accountable.
“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.11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”Romans 14:10-12 NASB
It’s bizarre really, how we tend to so often offer grace to the ‘sinner’ in our lives, but not to other Believers. We naturally hold expectations and measurements of how they should be responding and behaving toward certain things. But just like the ‘sinner’ (and note I’m putting this in quotations) who is wrestling with their own issues, so are we as Believers. I mean, who are we kidding? We all have these things the Holy Spirit is working within us on. We cannot allow the enemy to tear down the work of God for the sake of some topic that’s grey where division follows.
Each of us has been given unprecedented grace in our lives. Think about your own life, your own choices, and the consequences that have followed. Yet the grace of Jesus stepped in and covered them all. He restored us even though we didn’t deserve it. This same type of gift is going on all around us in others’ lives. Our job is to love people where they are, even other Believers on their journey, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Let’s not underestimate the work of the Spirit in others’ lives or his own capabilities to wrestle with hearts. Conviction is His job, not ours.
Romans 14 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Years ago, I hosted a Bible study with some college guys who were looking to grow in their faith. One particular afternoon, we were studying the New Testament when the discussion turned to some strong opinions. One of these young men made a sweeping statement that I disagreed with, and I pounced. In my mind, I could not let that kind of ignorance slide by. He was wrong and needed to be corrected.
So, an argument ensued. He didn’t back down. I didn’t either. In fact, one of my rather embarrassing character defects is the fact that I’m incredibly competitive. I hate losing. I intentionally will avoid competitive activities because they often bring out the worst in me. This goes hand-in-hand with admitting I’m wrong, which is where the real damage is done. I was determined I would not be outdone in this argument. I continued to push it, and to my shame, I left this young man in tears. Just retelling this story brings pain and regret.
This is why Romans 14 resonates so deeply with me.
Paul rightly argues that taking a strong stance against another believer who is weak in their faith can actually do more damage than good.
When it comes to grey area issues, strong believers should not insult weaker believers by labeling them ignorant and weaker believers should not judge strong believers as worldly. The text literally reads, “do not dispute over reasonings or opinions.” There are many actions in life that land in a grey area. Paul would argue that none of these are inherently good or bad. What makes them good or bad is the posture of the heart.
Some Christians in Paul’s time only wanted to eat vegetables to the glory of God. Fine. Others believed they could enjoy all foods to the glory of God. Fine.
Consider, the only sin in this instance is causing another to fall by making a grey area issue into a stumbling block!
Think about this teaching and question yourself. Are you someone who is constantly living in hostility with other believers over grey area issues? Do you consistently leave a path of destruction within the Church? Paul would say plainly – do not destroy your brother or sister in Christ over a meaningless issue. These are wise words for our culture today. These are wise and much-needed words for me.