Romans 14:1 states, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.”
Paul warned the saints in Rome not to judge or criticize each other’s faith. At that time, since there were both those who were very faithful and those not so faithful in the church in Rome, they came to criticize each other’s faith. If this happens to you, you must respect each other’s faith and do away with any critical stances against God’s servants. It is up to God, not us, to raise and build His servants.
Even within God’s church, many problems arise among the believers. If we take a look at their faith, we can find all sorts of faith. Some had been bound to the Law before their redemption, and thus, they still have the vestige of their old legalistic faith.
Some Christians take great importance in selective eating. For example, such people may believe that they must not eat pork. Others may believe that they must keep the Sabbath under any circumstances. But we must resolve these differences in our faith in the righteousness of God and not criticize each other over such small matters. This is the gist of what Paul was talking about.
Paul teaches in chapter 14 that we should not criticize our fellow believers’ weakness if they have faith in the righteousness of God. Why not? Because although weak, they also believe in God’s righteousness.
The Bible regards those who have been redeemed of their sins by believing in God’s righteousness as the precious people of God. While they may seem insufficient in each other’s eyes, God has nevertheless ordered us not to criticize other believers’ faith. This is because although they may be insufficient in the flesh, they still became the children of God by faith.
Everyone’s faith differs from each other
Verses 2-3 state, “For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.”
There can be diversity among the servants of God in believing in His righteousness and following Him. The faith in salvation is the same, but the amount of faith in His Word may differ.
If someone had been a legalist before being born again by the faith in the gospel of the righteousness of God, he/she would need time to abandon his/her own righteousness by wholly believing in God’s righteousness. These people tend to take great importance in observing the Sabbath, but you should not criticize them because they, too, believe in God’s righteousness.
God is pleased by the faith of those who know and believe in His righteousness. He has taken them as His people. Therefore, those who truly believe in the righteousness of God should make every effort to nourish their fellow believers with God’s righteousness, instead of criticizing the weakness of the faith of them.
We must not judge the servants of God
Verse 4 says, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
We must acknowledge God’s servants, whom God has approved, and also their faiths. Do you criticize and judge God’s servants while living your Christian life? Then God will rebuke your faith even more. If you condemn the faith of those whom God approves just because you do not like them, you are climbing yourself into the judgment seat of God and judging His servants. This is not right. Rather, you should gratefully receive even those servants of God whom you dislike and obey their guidance while lifting up God’s righteousness.
God must approve our faith. We should have the true faith that merits God’s commendation and reward. Because God has allowed us to devote our lives to Jesus Christ, we thank Him for His righteousness. We must approve those whom God approves and disapprove of those whom God disapproves. I hope that you would glorify God by having faith in His righteousness, instead of lifting up your own righteousness. I hope that God would approve your faith. You will then be lifted up because of your faith in His righteousness.
If they also believe in God’s Righteousness…
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks” (Romans 14:5-6).
Among the Jews were those who were saved by believing in Christ, our Lord of the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Many of them, though they believed in Jesus, were still bound by the Law. But they were already the servants of God’s righteousness because whatever they did to keep the Law, they did to spread God’s righteousness.
That is why Paul said, “To those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21).
We must neither ignore nor reject the faith of those who believe in the righteousness of God. If they believe in God’s righteousness and serve Him, we must acknowledge them as the servants of God.
The righteous shall live for the Lord
Verses 7-9 state, “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.”
We live with Christ and die with Him because we have been saved from all our sins and received new lives by believing in the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel. All the old things have passed away in Christ, and we became new creatures. To truly believe in God’s righteousness means to know and believe in the truth that you are Christ’s. Thus, those who believe in the righteousness of God have no more to do with this world and have become the servants of God instead.
If you become God’s servant, you will lift Him up high, love Him, live for His glory, and be thankful to Him for allowing you to live your life in this way.
Do you truly belong to Christ? Those who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have been crucified with Christ and were brought back to life again with Him. Whether we live or die, we belong to Christ by God’s righteousness. The Lord has become the Lord of the saved.
We should not judge our fellow believers
It is written in verses 10-12, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
Because Christ our God lives, we will one day kneel before Him and confess everything. We must therefore not seat on the judgment seat and judge our brothers and sisters but stand before God with modesty. It is much more important to live for God’s will than to judge and condemn one another in His church. If we judge and condemn our brothers and sisters’ weaknesses, we will be judged for our own weaknesses before God. This is why we must realize how good it is to live for God’s will, together in His church.
True faith edifies the fellow believers and pursues the righteousness of God. Remember that a false faith will abandon God’s righteousness and only build its own righteousness. What about you? Are you pursuing God’s righteousness with faith? Or are you pursuing the righteousness of your own flesh?
We must edify the others’ faith
Verses 13-14, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. 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.”
Because there are differences in the amount of faith among those who believe in the righteousness of God, we should work to build each other’s faith by edifying one another. This brings growth to the believers of God’s righteousness. If we truly live for God and His righteousness, we are all His people.
If you are a Christian who believes in the righteousness of God, you can do anything with your faith in the Word of God. If you cannot, it is because you are pursuing your own righteousness instead of God’s righteousness. Pursuing your own righteousness in the righteousness of God is like pursuing the world and having a wrong faith.
Those who seek their own righteousness, although saved by believing in God’s righteousness, are living as God’s foes. God wants those who are saved by believing in His righteousness to keep on following His righteousness throughout their lives.
Walk in love
Verses 15-18 says, “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. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”
Those who have been saved by believing in God’s righteousness and are living to spread it do not despise His people for the sake of food. We sometimes bring food to share and have fellowship in love. But Paul is warning us against excluding the poor brothers and sisters and sharing only among the wealthy, because that could make our fellow Christians to stumble.
The blessings that God has bestowed on those who believe in His righteousness are allowing us to follow God’s righteousness, our peace of mind given by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and being able to serve the Lord together, sharing in each other’s joy that He has given. Those who are wealthy should therefore realize that all their riches are from God and share them with others to serve the gospel and follow God’s righteousness together. God is pleased with and loves those who live such lives.
Seek to edify others
Verses 19-21 says, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 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. 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.”
Long ago, in such ancient cities as Rome and Corinth, people sold food that were once offered as sacrifices to idols. Some of the believers in God’s righteousness used to buy such meat and eat them. Then, some of the fellow believers who were of weak faith in God’s church thought that eating such meat was sinful. This is why Paul said, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (verse 20).
The same applied to wine. There were some believers who did not worry much about drinking. But Paul admonished that if such behaviors were to weaken the faith of their fellow believers, it would be good for them to stop offending their fellow believers with their drinking. This also happens among us. Therefore, we must live our Christian lives in a way that edifies others, and seek God’s righteousness. Issues can rise today concerning the food used as offerings to ancestors, and it is better not to eat that kind of food for the sake of those who are weak in faith.
Have faith in God’s Righteousness
Verse 22-23 states, “Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”
Those who believe in the righteousness of God are the ones who have the correct faith. Faith in God’s righteousness is the God-given faith that cleanses away all our sins. Christians therefore must believe in God’s righteousness and have the conviction of their faith in His righteousness.
The Scripture tells us that following God without believing in His righteousness is a sin. Anything done without faith is a sin. Knowing that anything done without faith in God’s righteousness is a sin, we must have more faith in His righteousness.
The Bible says, “He who doubts is condemned if he eats.” Everything is clean if you eat with faith in God’s righteousness, because God created every plant and animal.
We must understand just how important it is for us to know and believe in God’s righteousness. We must also edify our fellow born-again believers and respect their faith.