Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 14:21

“It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.” – Romans 14:21
n the first century Jews were accepting Christ and the work He did on the cross in droves.  The same can be said of the Gentiles.  However, because their former beliefs were not the same, they had different opinions as to what was acceptable and what was not.  That does not mean that either was wrong, but if they believed it was wrong, then it was wrong for them. There were several ideas in that time period that were most evident.  The first was what they could eat.  The Jews believed that only those foods that were declared clean by God were acceptable, everything else was not.  For instance, sheep were acceptable, but pigs were not.  Bass would be acceptable, but not eels.  “One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.” Romans 10:2. Another area in that day was when to worship.  “One person regards one day above another; another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5. One group, Jews, believed that the seventh day (Sabbath) was the day to observe in honor to God, others believed that all days, not necessarily the Sabbath only was acceptable. However, Paul sees it like this.  “He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:6. As for eating, see what God tells Peter.  “But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.  A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean. Again, a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Acts 10:10-15.  Some things are not wise to eat, but nothing is unclean as declared by God.  And “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”  James 1:13. As you can see from this, the Jews had a different view of right and wrong regarding these two ideas. And many today have similar differences as to what is right and wrong in the Christian walk.  One is that some will not drink any alcohol because they believe it is evil, while others believe alcohol is ok as long as there is no drunkenness.  Another area is with clothing.  Some believe that men need to be dressed up in suit and tie to go to church, while others believe anything that is not provocative is acceptable, such as jeans and a nice shirt.  Both examples within the belief described are OK.  However, some have grown up believing a certain way and were taught it was unacceptable to drink even a drop of alcohol, or that any clothing considered casual should not be worn in church. However, Paul wrote to the Romans that whatever we do as unto the Lord, and we truly believe this, honors Him and that it is not declared explicitly in scripture as sin, then we should not judge our brother or sister.  However, we must not do what another believes is wrong in their presence.  For instance, with the alcohol issue, if someone believes any alcohol is wrong, then no alcohol should be served or consumed.  For in doing so, we might cause him to stumble by doing what he believes is wrong; or to judge another by declaring them a sinner.  “The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:3. Or, in our example, the one who wears a suit is not to regard with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not wear a suit is not to judge the one who does, for God has accepted him.  What is important in this verse is as long what anyone does is not explicitly considered sin, such as theft, murder or deceit, and they are doing it to honor God, then we must accept it as good.  And we should not do anything in the presence of our brothers and sisters if they do not see it as acceptable, for this may cause them to fall. In closing, we must be careful how we judge the actions of another, for they may truly believe that their actions absolutely honor God, whether they abstain from something or practice something.  God knows what is in the hearts of men, we do not.  So, we must allow God to determine if what they do is acceptable or not.  If we attempt to do so, we may falsely judge them and end up in sin ourselves.  And that would not be a good thing. William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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