Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: https://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
Romans 14:10-19 (NIV)
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.
Paul continues to teach about peace in the book of Romans. This time in chapter 14, Paul is referring specifically to peace among Christians. This is critical for God’s mission, because when Christians treat one another badly, it gives unbelievers even more reasons to scoff, and takes glory away from God’s kingdom. In this case, the issue is Christians who pass judgment on each other. Apparently one group of Romans said that it was OK to eat all foods, while others said that only certain foods were holy or kosher. The “all foods” people were provoking the “kosher food” group, by dramatically eating the forbidden fruits in front of them, and mocking them for being “unenlightened.” What is so interesting is that, instead of telling the squeamish party to be less sensitive, Paul says it is the responsibility of the stronger Christian to sacrifice their own preferences and non-essential beliefs, for the sake of the weaker Christians. We are to “make every effort to do what leads to peace” (v. 19). Think about this the next time you are inclined to drink alcohol in front of an alcoholic, or do anything else that might trouble someone with a weak conscience.