Reading for Friday, Feb. 17: Romans 14
Romans 14 is central to Paul’s correspondence with these early Christians. I’m convinced this is one of the major issues Paul had in mind when he sat down to write to these believers in the first place. As with Corinth, the Christians in Rome seem to be divided over what passes for acceptable and unacceptable dining practices. But for Paul, the issue runs much deeper. For Paul, this issue is a matter of faith.
Paul understands that for the “strong” in faith, these matters aren’t nearly as important as they once were. Paul himself sides with those who no longer regard certain foods as “unclean” according to the Levitical Code (Rom. 14.14). The “weak” have chosen to eat only vegetables (v2) and they pass judgment on those whom they presume to be permissive and, thus, in error.
But Paul isn’t content to simply weigh in with his own opinion on the issue: he writes to discourage judgment and stumbling (Rom. 14.13) in light of our common place before the judgment seat of God. Quoting one of his favorite verses (Isa. 45.23), Paul reminds these feuding believers that every knee will bow and tongue swear allegiance to God; therefore, we will be held accountable for our actions. With our previous chapters in mind, we would do well to ask ourselves:
Am I fulfilling the law to love (Rom. 13.10)?
Are my actions a reflection of genuine love (Rom. 12.9)?
Am I making every effort to live peaceably (Rom. 12.18)?
This is what “living sacrifice” looks like.