Unity in the Midst of Diversity
1Offer an open hand of fellowship to welcome every true believer, even though their faith may be weak and immature. And refuse to engage in debates with them concerning nothing more than opinions.
2For example, one believer has no problem with eating all kinds of food, but another with weaker faith will eat only vegetables. # 14:2 It is possible that the one with “weaker faith” refused to eat meat because it was offered to idols or was considered unclean. 3The one who eats freely shouldn’t judge and look down on the one who eats only vegetables. And the vegetarian must not judge and look down on the one who eats everything. Remember, God has welcomed him and taken him as his partner.
4Who do you think you are to sit in judgment of someone else’s household servant? # 14:4 We are all “household servants” in the body of Christ, for we each belong to him. When believers begin to judge other believers over our opinions or preferences, we are taking the role that belongs only to Jesus. His own master is the one to evaluate whether he succeeds or fails. And God’s servants will succeed, for God’s power # 14:4 Some Greek manuscripts have “the Lord.” supports them and enables them to stand.
5In the same way, one person regards a certain day as more sacred than another, and another person regards them all alike. There is nothing wrong with having different personal convictions about such matters. # 14:5 Or “Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.” The Aramaic can be translated “Every human being justifies himself through his own perspective.” 6For the person who observes one day as especially sacred does it to honor the Lord. And the same is true regarding what a person eats. The one who eats everything eats to honor the Lord, because he gives thanks to God, and the one who has a special diet does it to honor the Lord, and he also gives thanks to God.
7No one lives to himself and no one dies to himself. 8While we live, we must live for our Master, and in death we must bring honor to him. So dead or alive we belong to our Master. # 14:8 The Aramaic twice uses “our Master” (Lord), while the Greek is “the Lord.” 9For this very reason the Anointed One died and was brought back to life again, so that he would become the Lord God # 14:9 Or “Yahweh” (Aramaic). The Greek is kurios (“Lord”). over both the dead and the living. # 14:9 That is, he exercises lordship over all believers: those living in faith and those who die in faith.
10Why would you judge your brothers or sisters because of their diet, despising them for what they eat or don’t eat? For we each will have our turn to stand before God’s judgment seat. # 14:10 The Aramaic can be translated “We are all destined to stand before the podium of the Messiah.” 11Just as it is written:
“As surely as I am the Living God, I tell you:
‘Every knee will bow before me
and every tongue will confess the truth # 14:11 Or “will fully agree” (or “speak from the same source”).
and glorify me!’ ” # 14:11 See Isa. 45:23; 49:18; Phil. 2:10–12.
12Therefore, each one must answer for himself and give a personal account of his own life before God.
Walking in Love
13So stop being critical and condemning of other believers, but instead determine to never deliberately cause a brother or sister to stumble # 14:13 Or “set before them an obstacle or trap to make them stumble.” and fall because of your actions.
14I know and am convinced by personal revelation from the Lord Jesus that there is nothing wrong with eating any food. But to the one who considers it to be unclean, it is unacceptable. 15If your brother or sister is offended because you insist on eating what you want, it is no longer love that rules your conduct. Why would you wound someone for whom the Messiah gave his life, just so you can eat what you want? 16So don’t give people the opportunity to slander what you know to be good. # 14:16 Even today in many cultures of the world, there are two things that cause division and spark debates among religious people. The observance of “special days” (fasts, feasts, Sabbaths, days of prayer, etc.) and dietary restrictions (kosher versus non-kosher). Paul addresses both of these cultural issues as examples of things that can divide us. In every culture there are religious traditions that are observed in varying degrees. As believers, our one tradition must be to love and not offend by deliberate actions that demonstrate insensitivity to others. The overarching message Paul brings in Rom. 14 is that we are obligated to walk in love and not put our preferences above love’s calling to honor others. These principles are to be applied in every cultural distinction in the body of Christ. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, # 14:17 The kingdom of God is entered into by the Holy Spirit, and not by observing feasts and ritual meals. We must be born of the Spirit in order to enter into God’s kingdom realm. To have the Holy Spirit is to have the realities of God’s kingdom. filled with righteousness, # 14:17 Righteousness means, both in the context and in the Hebraic mind-set, kindness in our relationships. Paul is speaking of putting others first and expressing goodness in having right relationships with others as well as right living. peace, and joy. 18Serving the Anointed One by walking in these kingdom realities pleases God # 14:18 The Aramaic can be translated “beautiful to God.” and earns the respect of others.
19So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, # 14:19 See Ps. 34:15; Heb. 12:14. eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another. 20Stop ruining the work of God by insisting on your own opinions about food. You can eat anything you want, # 14:20 Or “All [food] is [ceremonially] clean [acceptable to eat].” but it is wrong to deliberately cause someone to be offended over what you eat. 21Consider it an act of love # 14:21 Implied in the context of Rom. 14–15, and is meant to clarify the motivation to limit our liberties among believers. to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine or doing anything else that would cause a fellow believer to be offended or tempted to be weakened in his faith. # 14:21 A few manuscripts do not have the last phrase, or “to be weakened in his faith.” 22Keep the convictions you have about these matters between yourself and God, and don’t impose them upon others. You’ll be happy when you don’t judge yourself in doing what your conscience approves. 23But the one who has misgivings feels miserable if he eats meat, because he doubts and doesn’t eat in faith. For anything we do that doesn’t spring from faith is, by definition, sinful.