Love and Liberty.

We have been studying Paul's instructions on weak and strong Christians. (See previous sermons on this chapter.) Romans 14:13-23 gives guidelines for considerate people within a church that is unified, healthy, and growing.This is how we maintain unity among Spirit-filled people.

Don't Judge One Another

First, we must clarify that this passage is not talking about domestic opinions, entertainment, clothing, or practical decision-making. It is specifically focused on habits of food, drink, and observing special days. The context deals with conscientious former Jews (the weak) and believers with no ties to religious tradition (strong). This passage is not the same as 1 Corinthians 8 or Galatians 1-4, which were directed to churches who already had conflict regarding these issues. Paul is preventing future conflict in the Roman church by reminding them to consider each other. We must apply the passage to our context the way the Romans would have heard it.

Romans 14:13-14 tells both groups of believers not to be a stumbling block to the other. Do your best to try to honor one another's conscience. Assume the best about your brothers and sisters in Christ: that they are saved and growing. Be careful when you are around each other, especially with regard to food and drink and special days.

Don't Destroy the Weak

We should take care not to give a reason for people to speak negatively of our hospitality because they are sensitive to certain foods. Instead of being distracted by such things, we should be occupied by the righteousness of Christ and walking in the Spirit. The goal is to honor God and maintain unity. As we pursue these things, we help each other grow more (Romans 14:15-19).

Don't Tear Down God's Work

The phrase "tearing down" refers to a piece-by-piece process. It is not worth injuring any member of the whole church over issues like food. Don't offend others by eating or lecturing them on why you don't eat. Don't push your agenda either way.

There is nothing cookie-cutter about Christian growth. A Christian should never feel the need to stop practicing their conscience because others don't share the same conviction. When governed by God's Spirit, your conscience is the highest human court you can be held to (Romans 14:20-23).

Three Concluding Principles
  1. Acceptance is key in God's love.
  2. Our lives should primarily be lived in devotion to a singular audience. Walk with God first.
  3. Don't elevate yourself to a role you could never fulfill. Only God can judge.

If you're going to make an issue over something that is not an issue, maybe you are the issue.

Crusader or Conscience?

Crusaders promote themselves. They are persistent; they pressure; they are particular about whose company they keep. They try to persuade those who are less mature. They are not teachable or open to changing.

Whether strong or weak, people of conscience keep things between themselves and the Lord. They don't let issues of food, drink, or special days affect fellowship with God's people. They are open to growth and want to help others grow.

Application Points

  • Remember these 3 things when navigating issues of conscience with strong and weak believers: Always assume they are saved and growing. Be careful when you are together. Help them grow more.
  • Modern issues that match the context of this passage are ones that concern food and life, fellowship, and hospitality. Some examples are excitement over diets and health, church potlucks, how a church kitchen is organized, Christmas decorations at various retailers, observing holidays, and sources of food products. Can you think of more applications that fit this narrow scope? How can you apply these principles in the way the Romans would?