Romans 14:13-17

“So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”


There are not many times when you would hear me say that Jesus and the late pop star Michael Jackson were “on the same page,” but this is one. Both of them addressed situations where there was a wide-spread problem and said that each of us should examine ourselves. Michael Jackson was horrified by how many people were homeless and hungry. He thought someone should do something about this problem. He famously sang “I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror— I'm Asking Him To Change His Ways.” Jesus similarly said that if you see someone with a splinter in his eye, you should check your own eye to make sure you do not have a beam in your eye.

Now, first of all, don’t ever think that Jesus wasn’t funny. He was at times sarcastic, ironic, hyperbolic, etc., but more importantly He was making a very important point. Typically, when you are ready to point the finger at someone else, you probably have some issues yourself. That is exactly what this passage is teaching. Instead of pointing out faults in others I should meticulously examine my life to ensure that I do not hurt others with my life. I should “start with the man in the mirror.”
Here’s the deal—we are not under the Law. So, things are not inherently clean or unclean. Eat what you want; drink what you please. Jesus has purchased this freedom for you, and it is a good thing. However, you should not use this freedom in a way that it hurts or discourages others. You should use this freedom to encourage others. The unfortunate truth is that many believers have strong opinions about lifestyle choices, and they want other believers to have the same ideas. These verses get used to bludgeon other believers. “I think it is wrong to X, Y, or Z, so you shouldn’t do it either.” This is absolutely not the meaning of this passage.

This passage is saying that if someone is weak in his beliefs and thinks something might be wrong, but you are confident that God has given you the freedom to do it, you should be loving and say, “I do not need to do that if it is troublesome to you.” Note—this does not mean that if you have been a believer for thirty years and are strong in your lifestyle choices that you say to another believer “It offends me that you dress that way, drink that, listen to that, or go there…you are strong in your beliefs. You are not tempted to stumble or violate your conscience because someone else is doing something—this passage is not for your protection. It is to challenge you. Stop scrutinizing other people’s choices. 
You are strong; be even stronger. You watch out for the weak ones. You protect new believers. You change your choices for others. Start with the man in the mirror.

Romans 14:13-17  13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.  14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.  15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.  17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

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