This chapter describes how Christians should pursue unity when we disagree over non-essentials. “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”(Rom 14:2-3). In the issue of diet (probably Jews who refuse to eat animals previously believed to be unclean), there is dual responsibility. The one who feels free to eat should not “despise” the other, looking down on him as unenlightened and unnecessarily rigid. The one who feels eating is wrong should not “pass judgment” on the other, assuming that he is wrong to use freedom God has given him.
Paul’s reasoning is that we have to be careful not to act as if we are the lord of someone else’s faith. “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”(Rom 14:4). We already have a master and do not need our brothers to take on that role. Our actions are influenced primarily by our allegiance to Jesus. “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”(Rom 14:6). While I should consider my brothers and how my actions affect them (Rom 14:13), I will give account of myself to God, not other Christians (Rom 14:12).
We already have a master. When we give our allegiance to Jesus, we forsake trying to please and follow other men. Christians should not attempt to be controlling of others, forcing our scruples and convictions on them. There are some rights and powers we do not have. We are not the boss of anyone else’s faith. Who are we to pass judgment on someone else’s servant? We serve Jesus—and must remember that our brothers do too.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Why is it hard to allow others to make different choices than we make?
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