PEACE BE WITH YOU
Today Father, surround me, search me, and immerse me in your will. I wait before you now.
Read ROMANS 14:19–23
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[a]
- Romans 14:23 Some manuscripts place 16:25-27 here; others after 15:33.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Are there issues in your own church life where there is disagreement? Talk with the Lord about these.
‘Therefore’ (v 13), Paul reiterates to the Roman believers (and us), for the sake of God’s kingdom (v 17) and God’s people, we need to ‘make every effort’ to behave in ways which bring the wholeness of God’s peace (v 19). The result is ‘edification’ of the community. And this is not a one-way process: it is ‘mutual’. It takes a loving humility that enables everyone to learn, everyone to contribute.
Paul makes clear his own conviction about the non-essentials of faith practice (v 20). Now, addressing the needs of this community, he speaks to those who flaunt their freedom in Christ.1 What you do may be permissible, but is it loving? He uses a gentle sarcasm to highlight his point: would you jeopardize the work of God for the sake of food?!2 No, if eating meat and drinking wine causes a problem for others, I’ll not do it (v 21)! There is, as John Stott comments, ‘a difference between private conviction and public behaviour’.3
This matter of conviction (or conscience) is important. It is between you and God (v 22) – not to be paraded in front of others. Amidst the revolutionary changes that Christian faith was bringing to Jewish believers, many would have been troubled (vs 22,23). Paul reassures them as they adjust to the implications of the gospel: check that your own conscience is clear before God; then act accordingly. That which arises from faith does not condemn you (v 22). The same principles apply to us. It’s not that ‘anything goes’; by implication, learning and growth are to be expected. Rather than being concerned about the practices of others, we should first ask ourselves whether our own consciences are clear before the Lord. Does our behavior then promote peace and bring ‘mutual edification’?
Reflect on your own behavior in church. Are you acting or speaking to others in ways that trouble their faith? How might you work to bring God’s peace?
Merciful One, I need your wisdom on a daily basis. Help me to discern what needs to be challenged and what is making a mountain out of a molehill.
1 See 1 Cor 10:23 – 11:1 2 John Stott, The Message of Romans, IVP, 1994, p367 3 Stott, 1994, p368
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