Meat eater? Don’t “pass judgment”

Romans 14:1-4

1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. – Romans 14:1-4

In the first century the issue of food was important because the Jewish believers had been taught to eat Kosher food. Kosher means “pure” and food has to meet the dietary regulations that stemmed from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Part of the regulations was to not to eat with Gentiles. So for Jewish believers to eat with their Gentile christian brothers meant they had to actively reject their Jewish tradition.

Here Paul is talking about those who eat meat and those who abstain. This echoes the situation explained previously. In some of the Gentile belief systems it was a way to show honour to their gods by abstaining from eating meat. In our culture today vegetarianism and veganism are strongly followed. By some because they do not want animals to suffer and by others as a health issue or a spiritual ritual.

What ever your own personal convictions on this issue the teaching of Paul is good advice. It is not up to us to pass judgment another person. That is the Lord’s prerogative. We can have personal strongly held opinions that, to us, have a biblical base, that are not held by another person. We should not judge that person but love them and show grace towards them accepting their stance on an issue (unless it is causing them to fall into sin). We are to maintain unity in the body of Christ. We should have humility and meekness bearing others differences with love:

2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:2-3

We all will have to give account before God for our words and actions, in fact Paul makes this very point later in this chapter:

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;
11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:10-12

In all honesty can any of us say we have got it right? You only have to look at how many times Jesus had to correct His disciples. How Paul was correcting churches through his letters. Also, the first few chapters of the book of Revelation list endless problems in the churches. We all need to bow the knee in humility before our Lord and submit to Him. Accept and rejoice in differences among the believers. God does. He has made us all different to reflect some facet of His Glory uniquely through us. So long as the truth of the gospel is not compromised let others seek personal guidance and direction in these type of matters.

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