Romans 14:13-15Amplified Bible
13 Then let us not criticize one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way. 14 I know and am convinced [as one] in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean [ritually defiled, and unholy] in itself; but [nonetheless] it is unclean to anyone who thinks it is unclean. 15 If your brother is being hurt or offended because of food [that you insist on eating], you are no longer walking in love [toward him]. Do not let what you eat destroy and spiritually harm one for whom Christ died.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
It is so easy (actually far too easy) for us to be incredibly judgmental of others.
We don’t know their struggles.
We don’t know their situation.
Most of all, we don’t know their hearts or their souls or their minds.
When we are judgmental, we erect a barrier between others and ourselves.
We often spread that judgmental impression to others in gossip.
Our stubbornness to only view them with a judgmental spirit erects a barrier, a true stumbling block, that can cause them to become discouraged and stumble.
It is easy to read a passage such as our text, think it does not apply to us today.
In general, we do not see the dietary struggles that the early church experienced because we are not barely trained with the Old Testament laws and regulations, they were trained in.
However, the underlining principal that the Apostle Paul is addressing in this passage still very much applies to our being accountable for Christian Actions.
First: Christian Actions first!
We are to judge ourselves to make sure we are not causing others to stumble by our actions.
This should be a mindset not to use our freedom to destroy the faith of our brothers and sisters.
Paul was fully convinced that no food was unclean, but it was how that food was received that made it unclean for that individual.
If they were not receiving from a mindset of faith, then to them it was unclean.
Sometimes these truths take a while to take hold in our lives.
Paul told Timothy,
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 1:4-5).
Everything that God made is good and nothing has to be refused if we receive it with grateful hearts and thanksgiving and from a mindset of true genuine faith.
This struggle between the old covenant law and the new and better covenant that we enjoy today extends far past dietary laws of eating and drinking.
Early Christians struggled over these things because they did not understand that they were a shadow of the things to come.
Colossians 2 speaks directly to this very thing,
“Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).
Likewise, it is still true to this day, today, that some Christians still hold to Old Testament ritual without any idea that the ritual has become reality in Christ.
But now that our Savior Jesus Christ has come, the rituals are meaningless and can, sadly, become oppressive. This is why it is important to fully understand the differences in the covenants so we can walk in the freedom and liberty that Christ purchased for us, His enemy, ratifying it with His precious life’s blood.
The bottom line is that we are all in different stages of maturity in Christ. We should encourage one another, and we should decide to walk in the freedom that Christ has revealed to us while making up our minds not to cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble in their faith by our faulty actions.
In the first twelve verses of chapter 14 Paul has taught Christians in that church to stop passing judgments on each other and despising each other.
Jewish Christians were condemning Gentiles Christians about eating unclean foods and not keeping the festivals of Moses.
Gentile Christians was despising Jewish Christians for not eating with them, eating all foods, and for keeping the Sabbath and other feasts of Moses.
They were to recognize God had received them both and that God was the judge.
Therefore, they were to welcome and accept one another, but not for the purpose of disputing over these things.
Paul is going to pursue this thinking further as he directs these early Christians concerning how to, and how not to act over these significantly divisive issues.
Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
13 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. 14 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. 15 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.
Never Put a Stumbling Block in The Way of Another Christian (14:13)
This is the key thought for this paragraph.
Stop passing judgment on one another.
Instead, resolve to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.
The same Greek word is used for what is translated “pass judgment” and “decide” in the ESV in verse 13.
Literally, this would read:
“Therefore, let us not judge one another any longer, but rather judge to never put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
In a sense Apostle Paul is saying that if you are going to judge, judge to never put a hindrance in your brother’s way. Stop judging one another.
Determine to not be a stumbling block or a hindrance.
This is a very important principle that we also must determine to do in our lives.
We need to make the Christian decision to never put a stumbling block in the way of our Christian brethren.
This is one point that we find in parallel to 1 Corinthians 8-10.
At the end of 1 Corinthians 8 Paul teaches that he would never eat meat again to keep his brother or sister from stumbling.
In chapter 9 Paul taught that he forfeits his rights for the sake of the gospel.
These points are similarly made here in Romans 14.
We need to determine that we will choose not to do things when we know that such an activity is going to be a hindrance to other Christians.
The question is not simply is this okay for me to do.
The question is also is this something that could cause my brother or sister in Christ to engage in sin or be weak in conscience.
Do Not Grieve Your Brother (14:14-15)
Paul continues in verse 14 about his knowledge in the Lord that there is nothing clean or unclean any longer in Christ.
But can you imagine how difficult this knowledge was for those who grew up in Judaism?
All their lives they were rightly taught that certain foods defiled, and only other foods were clean for eating.
For years the conscience had been trained that these foods were unclean.
Even Peter did not readily accept this when three times in a vision God said, “Rise, kill and eat.” (Acts 10:13) (Whole thought: Acts 10:9-22)
Now these Jews had become Christians.
How difficult it was for them to change their eating habits from being Jews to liberated Christians.
Paul knows that all foods are clean.
However, for those who think the food is unclean, it is unclean.
The other parallel to 1 Corinthians 8-10 is found at this point also.
What another person believes is just as important as what you believe.
If a person sees the food as unclean, they should not engage in eating that food.
One can easily imagine the Jewish Christian knowing that the food is okay to eat, but the conscience is so strong that it will not allow that Jewish Christian to eat that meat.
Rather than instructing the strong to teach the weak the truth so that they are no longer weak, Apostle Paul is calling upon the strong to stop, to empathize, to come to a place where they try to understand where the weak are coming from.
The strong need to understand that the conscience is involved.
It is not simple for them to change regarding foods.
It is not so simple a thing for individuals to “dismantle” their belief systems.
It took them a lifetime to arrive at that place of practice and understanding.
Verse 15 capitalizes on this thought.
If your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.
You know you have a liberty, but you must have concern for your brother above all else.
We must have the determination to not put a stumbling block in the way of any person.
If we do not care what we are doing is causing a problem for another Christian, then we have a bigger problem.
The bigger problem is that we are not acting with the love that Jesus commands.
There may be things I think we should do in our worship or in our gatherings.
But I know that this could and would cause problems for other members.
Should I bully them into going along with me because “only I” have the proper understanding of the scriptures?
We may have beliefs concerning the scriptures which are different than the beliefs of others.
Should we “push” them into “seeing things my way?”
No. We are commanded to work with one another.
We are commanded by God to be more considerate, understanding about where the other person is coming from.
We need to consider that the other person may have serious convictions or a trained conscience that we do not want to “rush headlong into” and violate.
We need to acknowledge, recognize there are occasions when we need to hold back from our freedom for the sake of those whose Christian faith would be irreparably damaged by such behavior.
Paul gives us a very important thought that we must continue to keep in mind: “By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
How many ways to “stumble all over ourselves” to damage the faith of another?
How could we possibly live with ourselves if we ruin the faith of another?
We cannot and must not use our liberties to be a hindrance to another Christian.
Romans 14:13-14The Message
13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me! —that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
How we do this is by first Loving God, then loving our neighbor as ourselves.
In the previous chapter Paul summarized that our duty was to love and act in love toward one another (Romans 13:10).
If we ignore the influence our own actions have on others, we are not walking in love. So, we must continue towards the freedom into which we have been called while loving our God and extending grace and patience with all fellow believers.
As an incredibly wise sage once wrote some three thousand years ago:
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
And only God knows the end of it all ….
And in the end of it all, only God’s judgement of it all matters in the end.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14Amplified Bible
13 When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, for this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God my Father, I ask you to conform my attitude toward others to match the redemptive grace you have for them. I want to be more patient with the failures of others, just as you are patient with mine. Forgive me for not being more of an encouragement to those who are weak and struggling and open my eyes to the ways I can be a blessing to them. Forgive me for those times when I have been a hindrance to others and pray, open my heart to share your blessings with them. Please use me to be an instrument of grace. In my Savior Jesus’ name. Amen.