The theme of Romans 14 is the danger of criticism. Looking at Romans 14 verse by verse gives a clear idea of exactly what Paul is trying to tell us in this chapter.
The old covenant was done away with at Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the new covenant was taking its place. This was a confusing time for people, who didn’t really understand that the old law of sin and death was being replaced by the new law of grace, of resting in Jesus. The Old Testament had become obsolete, and the New Testament is now in effect (Hebrews 8:13)
Verse one of Romans 14 tells us to accept other believers who are weak in their faith and not to argue with them about what they believe is right and wrong. Verses two and three says that one believer will believe it is alright to eat anything, but another believer who has a more sensitive conscience will only eat vegetables. Those of us who feel free to eat anything are instructed not to look down on those who don’t, and that the same way, believers who don’t believe it’s okay to eat everything should not look down on believers who feel they have freedom in this area. We are told in verse 3 that God has accepted both ways. Verse 4 tells us not to condemn someone else’s servant. We are responsible to the Lord, so we should leave the judging to Him, and he will help us learn what is right.
Verse five explains that believers will also differ on “special days”. The only requirement here is that we be fully convinced whichever day we choose is acceptable, and that what ever we eat or don’t eat, we give thanks to the Lord.
Verses 10-13 tell us again that we are not to condemn each other. That is not our job as Christians. The important thing is that we live in such a way that we will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Paul tells us in verses fourteen through the rest of the chapter that while he is convinced on the authority of God that no food is wrong to eat, what is wrong is to cause another believer distress. Causing another believer to stumble is not acting in love. Therefore, it’s better for us not to eat the foods another believer may think it would be a sin to eat before we cause ruin in the other believer. The fellow believer’s faith is more important than our own freedom to eat whatever we want to eat. Verse 20 tells us that we should not tear apart the work of God over what we eat. To remember that even though all foods are acceptable, it IS wrong to make another believer stumble. We should understand, verse 23 says, that if we have doubts about whether or not it’s okay to eat something, we are sinning if we go ahead and do it. So for us to try and convince another believer against his own conscience to do something he believes is wrong, is to make him sin.
Romans 15 continues this subject by telling us to be considerate of those who are sensitive about these things, and not just live to please ourselves.
Remember, helping another believer as they learn how God wants us to live is more important than always getting our point across. Some things are heaven and hell issues. Others can wait as the believer grows in maturity and knowledge. It’s good for us to learn the difference.