Monday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Romans 14:1—15:3 (NKJV)
14:1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
15:1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.”
Here we are warned to not judge a fellow Christian, who is also a servant of God, for less than clear sin. For to Christ, the Master of you and your fellow believer, you will have to make account. God is Master and to Him alone all believers are responsible. Paul includes himself in the camp of those who are strong, because as a Christian now, the old Jewish food taboos no longer applied. We see clearly that Paul is not discussing conduct that in the light of Scripture is clearly sinful, but conduct concerning that which Christians may legitimately differ (in this case, food regulations).
With regard to such matters, decisions should be guided by a conscience formed by the agape love of God for us all. Christ so valued the weak brother as to die for him. Surely the strong Christian ought to be willing to make adjustments in his own behavior for the sake of such brothers. To do otherwise runs the risk of causing your own understanding of Christian liberty to be spoken of as evil. To exercise freedom without responsibility can lead to evil results. We who are strong in Christ, and thus have Christian freedom, are to bear the cross for the sake of the weaker brethren. Not merely to tolerate or put up with, but to uphold lovingly. We should not insist on pleasing ourselves. Not that a Christian should never please himself, but that he should not insist on doing what he wants without regard to the scruples of other Christians.