It is a shock for us to read that some of Romeís Christians were Ďdestroying the work of Godí. In other words, they were undoing the work that God had done. The situation there was similar to that in 1 Corinthians chapter 8, but not quite the same.
In Rome, it was some of the Gentile Christians who were responsible for the problem. (The Jews are Israelís people; the Gentiles are people from other nations). Those Gentile Christians in Rome were eating meat which for some reason offended the Jewish Christians. Perhaps it was the meat of pigs, which the Jews do not eat (Leviticus 11:7). The first Christians often ate together before their meetings, so perhaps the Jewish Christians felt unable to attend those meetings. Godís work among the Jews was suffering because of the actions of those Gentile Christians.
In his reply, Paul recognises that the Gentile Christians have a right to eat that meat. In fact, they have a right to eat any food, and it does not offend God. He also recognises that the Jewish Christians were only worrying about this because of their own weakness (14:1-3). However, the Gentile Christians must still change their behaviour, because of the damage that it was causing to Godís work. Christians must never do anything that spoils a weaker personís relationship with God (Mark 9:42; Romans 14:13-15).
This kind of problem often happens today, too, although the facts may be different. One group of Christians wants to do something that offends other people in their church. The problem may become so serious that those other people cannot attend church because of it. What that group chose to do may itself be good and right. However, it is never good or right to damage the work of God. We must always act in love; we must never cause trouble for weaker Christians.
Next part: Should Christians drink wine? (Romans 14:21)
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© 2018, Keith Simons.