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Read Romans 14

The Weak and the Strong

1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
    every tongue will acknowledge God.’

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Go Deeper

After 13 chapters of strong exhortation for the Roman church, Paul takes time to shepherd believers in this chapter. When Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead, He fulfilled the requirements of the old law and founded a new covenant with believers. Now, believers are not restricted in ways they previously were. Arguments began within the early church because of this, and here Paul clears things up. 

Every question of sin or righteous behavior is not based on feeling for believers. To practice these things apart from conviction would be submitting to a strange form of legalism, and would be confusing with what is required of believers. Where there is room for ambiguity, the believer is to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in accordance with God’s Word, and pray about how to make the next faithful step. We are no longer bound by certain rules (like restricting us from eating certain forms of meat), but we could still sin if God clearly convicts us of something and we don’t listen. 

Our freedom as believers must not cause others to stumble. As an illustration, if you are friends with someone who is deathly allergic to dogs, you would not bring a dog around for his or her health and safety. In the same way, sin leads to death, and if something we do might cause someone to choose something that leads them away from Jesus, then the best way to love that person is to abstain from that thing. This may look practically like not choosing to drink alcohol when breaking bread with a believer with a history of alcoholism, or abstaining from sweets with someone in your small group while they fast from them. It is our joy as believers to deny ourselves when it may prevent another believer from stumbling.

Further, Paul encourages believers to not use newfound wisdom and maturity as a license to seat themselves on the judgement seat of Christ. We are not supposed to judge others or view ourselves as “better” believers. Further, spiritual maturity is not a requirement for fellowship. Ephesians 4 tells us that the body of Christ is designed to build itself up into the head that is Christ, and a body that is making disciples will always have new believers around. 


  1. Have you recently done anything in your life that may have caused another believer to stumble? Have you sought their forgiveness?
  2. In what ways can you avoid being a stumbling block for those around you?
  3. Ask the Spirit if there is anything that you can abstain from that may not be universally required but may be life-giving. Consider fasting from something that is distracting you from Jesus. 

Pray This

Father, thank you that it is not my responsibility to sit on the judgement seat of Christ. Thank you that I am no longer bound by the law of sin and death to determine my righteousness through performance and behavior. I confess that I could not be faithful enough to you to do this if I tried. I thank you that I am instead viewed with the righteousness of Christ in your sight, and that I am now free in the law of the Spirit of Life. I thank you that Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, and show us a better way in Himself by taking on flesh. Help me to love my neighbor and avoid being a stumbling block to the believers around me, and bless me with eyes to see where others are struggling so that I might aid them in following the Way. Amen.

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8 thoughts on “Romans 14”

  1. Paul addresses believers and the journey of faith we travel together, often filled with bumps and detours, with the goal of remaining true to Christ and edifying one another. In a culture that glorifies “self”, as Christ-followers we can push back and walk in humility and service to others. If we think something might be confusing/distracting to a fellow believer, the right choice would be to abstain. V12 says “Each of us will give a personal account to God.” Let’s seek ways to encourage and stir up each other’s faith in Jesus, living a life of goodness, peace and joy led by the Holy Spirit..

  2. Enjoyed this reading. I’m still left with a question that I often wrestle. How does this apply to dress codes when visiting those of the type of religion that women wear no make up, hair in a bun, long dresses…. I used to make all the adjustments to my appearance but it started feeling like I was pretending more than respecting. Of course modest clothing is always worn but it’s still hard to navigate. Anyone have any experience or want to speak to that?

    1. A compassionate heart or copycat?

      Well, this is perhaps not going to go well, as I am a guy! So with that disclosed, here we go.

      I was working out at a local gym and I think it not necessary to describe how most of the ladies (and men) dress to accentuate their appearance. (Think college age) And one day, two very beautiful young ladies were dressed amongst all of the others in the old style grey sweats top to bottom. I found a brother in Christ to accompany me as a witness, and simply shared with them that it blessed me and encouraged me to see the confidence that radiated from their countenance; not from their dress, but from their hearts that seemed to me to say, “we don’t need to copy this dress code to be strong and sure of ourselves…” As the discussion continued for a very short time…it was learned they attend Harris Creek.

      I think in the same way, while we certainly want to dress appropriate to our ministry purpose at hand, (this sect and their attire) it’s the heart that will really be on display and compassionately speak louder than your attire.

      Test me, Lord, and try me,
      examine my heart and my mind;
      for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
      and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:2-3

      “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9

    2. And Angela…I meant to start here and totally whiffed! Please forgive me.

      Way to engage and put yourself in territories to be God’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) And finally, as the apostle Paul says: To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
      – 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

      1. Still reading and re reading your responses. Thank you for the encouragement. Sharing the gospel with religious people is a different kind of ministry- there’s been a temptation to ‘live and let live’ attitude to set in. Scriptures been faithful to remind me ‘first to the Jew’ we all need the love and grace of Jesus. Thank you again for your encouraging and thoughtful responses- they helped me.

  3. We are going to disagree. It is a fact of life we will not completely agree with another human about all things. God gave us His word as the rule book. But even with a rule book we see some things differently depending upon culture, understanding of what we have read, and even what God convicts us to do for our personal selves. Romans 14 is about those disagreements with the body of Christ. We, I, am not judge (whew) that is God’s realm. But we are to be a servant to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are able to pray, advise (if or when it is ask for or needed), as well as admonish, but we don’t take God’s place. Spiritual unity is the goal, so we need to pray, love, edify, pray some more, read the rule book, pray and love.

    God thank You for this new day to rejoice and be glad in YOU!! Thank You for my eyes of understanding to be opened to know You better, Your word, and how I can further Your kingdom today. Thank You that even when I am overwhelmed with waves of life Your are my rock and refuge. Thank You for the rest I find in You, that I can be still even if it is 5 minutes and lean in to You. Thank You for that peace, calm and blessing in those minutes in Jesus name

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