20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.
22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.
23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. – Romans 14:20-23
Paul reiterates the importance of not causing someone else to stumble. If he can say “Do not destroy the work of God” that must mean that some times our actions can thwart the work of God. That is worrying! It brings us back to the question of sovereignty and man’s free will. But look at the life of Jonah for example. God has told him to go to the Assyrian capital Niniva and preach that they should repent(Jonah 1:1). That was the plan. But, Jonah hated the Assyrians and went in the opposite direction. God in His grace and wisdom brought Jonah to a place of death to himself and he repented and did what the Lord instructed (all be it grudgingly).
In fact you could look at many biblical heroes: Noah, Abraham, David, Samson, Peter, Paul all of whom have recorded in the bible times when they went against the plan of God. But even if the plan is effected the end result is always that the result ordained by God will happen.
We can be a part of the plan through faith. Not using our rational mind to excuse ourselves from doing what God requires of us. But, What does he mean by “the faith you have keep between yourself and God”? In the NLT this verse is translated:
You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. -Romans 14:22 (NLT)
Here the rational mind is trying to allow you to continue to do something God has told you is not for you. It may be OK for others but not for you. If you continue in to do it, it will restrict the close walk you could have with the Lord. This could apply to food, alcohol, hobbies, pastimes, films all things that are personal issues and you can have your own convictions about.
But, “What ever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Faith is our personal channel of communication with our Father. Anything outside of faith is sin. Anything outside of a personal close relationship with our loving father, falls short, misses the mark, is sin. God has so much for us that we can miss out on if we continue to thwart His plan for our lives, even over the small issues. He wants us to be free, to have His joy and to reflect His glory. Be faithful in the small things.
10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Luke 16:10-13