Do Not Offend

Romans 14:14–23 (NKJV)

14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.
19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. 22 Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

Romans 14:14-23

Paul continues his discussion of personal convictions. How you handle your freedom or your own conviction is important to your own holiness in more ways than just whether you exercise freedom or restraint for yourself. Some would enter into discussions, which became debates, and even arguments. and sometimes contentions. Paul warns against using freedom or prohibition as a method to force one’s convictions on another. If you believe you are free to do something, don’t rub it in your brother’s face. If you believe that you should not do something, then do not do it, but don’t openly convict someone who does. Call sin sin. Instruct someone who is involved in open sin. But if someone eats meat, don’t condemn them.

A modern issue similar to this debate over eating meat in Paul’s day is the issue of drinking alcohol. I am personally a teetotaler. I believe that alcohol should be avoided by all Christians, for many reasons. I believe that being intoxicated is Biblically prohibited. However, there are some who believe that drinking alcohol without getting drunk is not a sin. Biblically, there could be an argument made for that, although I disagree for the following reasons. This issue falls in the same category of eating meat. If you feel that you have the freedom to drink alcohol as long as you don’t get drunk, you should still think about the effect of your drinking on others around you. If your drinking offends another, you should not drink. If your drinking should lead someone else to drink, be drunk, or even become an alcoholic, then your drinking has had a detrimental effect on a “weaker brother.” I ask my leaders at church not to drink at all. I counsel people not to drink at all. I say here today that it is a very bad idea. However, I also believe that there is a need for mutual respect on many issues, so that there is not division in the church. Don’t condemn, but don’t offend. If there is division or doubt about whether Christians should do something, treat it like a comma: when in doubt, leave it out.

Artwork from https://newcreeations.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Romans14-19.jpg

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