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1 Corinthians 10:31 says, ‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ How can what we eat or drink – or read or watch – glorify God?

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Bible passage Romans 14:1–12

Romans 14

The Weak and the Strong
 1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

   “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
   every tongue will confess to God.’”

 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible

Setting personal boundaries
A Christian speaker of my acquaintance has decided that he will never watch any film rated 18 (ie suitable only for people aged 18 or above). Some people mock him for this, thinking his faith must be very weak if he can’t cope with seeing a bit of sex, violence and swearing.

He knows, however, that allowing even a small amount of those things into his mental ‘diet’ affects his thought processes and his attitudes.

Not being judgemental
This is a good example of the kind of thing going on in today’s passage, and Paul’s response shows that love starts with an act of the mind – choosing not to judge.

On issues where there is no clear right or wrong, each person must obey his or her own conscience and bear the consequences of it before God. And we will be judged by what we thought of others just as surely as they are judged for their actions.


Are you proud of where you stand on certain issues? Do you judge others for being too free, or too strict? Ask the Lord to reveal to you times when you have not been loving towards others in your thoughts or attitudes and ask for his help to change.

Jennie Pollock

Deeper Bible study

‘In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ (Philippians 2:3,4)

The previous reading makes it clear that there are certain things that are definitely morally wrong. Although we are moved and guided by love, the Law remains helpful to us in specifying what is to be avoided and what embraced. There are times when it is not clear what is right or wrong and here we depend on conscience to guide us – but people’s consciences can say different things, so what are we to do?

A big issue in Paul’s day was eating meat that had previously been offered to idols. This impinged upon much social life. Jewish Christians in particular had big problems with this – it conflicted with their aversion to idolatry. They stuck to vegetables (v 2). Some Gentile Christians, however, were able to take it in their stride: didn’t everything come from God (v 14)? The problem was that those with tender consciences might feel they had to leave the Christian community and this could mean spiritual death (vs 15,20). A similar problem arose over the observance of days such as the sabbath and festivals (v 6).

Every generation has its issues, some old and some new. Clearly it is important to discern between what is essential to the faith and what is disputable (v 1). If we can do this, the principles Paul lays down are of continuing validity. Avoid quarrelling (v 1). Do not treat anybody with contempt but be alert to their struggles (v 3). Do not stand in judgement but allow people to be accountable to God (v 4). Respect difference and encourage people to be clear in their own minds (v 5). Realise that none of us are autonomous but are responsible for others as well as ourselves (v 7). Realise that we are above all responsible to the Lord of life and death (vs 8,9,10). Such lessons make for good communities.

Nigel Wright

Background: Why quarrel over food?

Who were ‘the weak’?

It is best to take the word ‘weak’ in Romans 14:2 and 15:1 as referring to the conscience of Jewish Christians, who had been brought up to regard lots of food as ritually unclean (see Acts 10:14). It was often difficult for them to understand that in Christ the law no longer bound them, or to overcome years of habit in keeping all the Jewish food regulations.

Culturally too, if they did not keep the food regulations they would be unable to socialise with other Jews who had not yet believed in Jesus.

Maintaining fellowship

Personally, Paul clearly sides with the ‘strong’, for whom their conscience is clear to eat whatever they like. But his concern is for Jewish-Gentile fellowship in the church. So he lays down some key principles:

● The ‘strong’ must not look down on the ‘weak’, treating them with contempt (vs 3,10).

● The ‘weak’ must not judge the ‘strong’, criticising them for their laxity (vs 2,3,10). If God accepts them, who are they to write them off?

● The key issue is whether or not people can ‘give thanks to God’ for what they do, either partaking or abstaining (v 6; see 1 Timothy 4:3).

Working it out today

One application today may be vegetarians in the church. They and meat-eaters must accept one another, respecting each other’s consciences.

Of course this applies to many other issues (eg dress, social habits) as well. Minor issues such as these must not be allowed to disrupt the unity of the body, and hence effectiveness in preaching the gospel.


Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Isaiah 13,14

2 Timothy 4

Jiminy Critic

Watch this 'comic' animation by Jon Birch to remind yourself of the sort of critical things you may be tempted to say or think each day about others... or yourself!


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  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Thank you Lord for this good reminder today that we are all servants, not judges. We should let the Lord be the judge. All that we are supposed to judge is ourselves, to make sure that we aren’t stumbling blocks to anyone.

  • Ray Skinner | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Special prayer for the next day or so please, as I try to work through what I believe is "essential to the faith" (see Nigel Wright, above).

  • Warren Burgess | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Good morning all. I am a regular Word Live reader but do not comment very much - however, I really do appreciate those who do regularly comment. Today's reading really strikes a chord for me - and I really appreciate the clarity of Paul's teaching 'not to be critical of others'. It hits home to so many aspects of living with each other. The BIG issue of this time is hitting home hard in the Scottish Episcopal Church (of which I am a member), with the Synod's decision this year on same sex marriage, which thankfully is not compulsory for member congregations to apply. However it is causing upset to many people. What we believe to be 'essential to the faith' is key to this whole topic - and we all need to keep in mind the need not to be critical, as we continue to consider the issues.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 08 September 2017

    God is our judge and there is nothing hidden from His sight. Jesus, our LORD, has given us a new life in Him and the time for a final judgment is on the way. I have to ask myself "Am I honouring my LORD in all I say and do?"......Important rules have travelled from the Old to the New Testament and "each person must make up their own mind." (verse 5) Believers are united as we declare 'Jesus is LORD; God raised Him from the dead.' Give thanks to God; Praying with you, RAY.

  • Derek Forster | Friday, 08 September 2017

    How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled? ‘Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand. ‘The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I will not desert to his foes; That soul, tho’ all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!’

  • Kath Prior | Friday, 08 September 2017

    The easy thing is to talk about the 'issue' and our own stance on it (which probably changes over time showing it is not as absolute as we had thought), the hard thing is to avoid judgement and to always love. WARREN I agree that the big disputable issue of our day is Same Sex Attraction and Marriage. Paul's teaching here is a timely reminder to choose to respond non-judgementally in love, and to focus the motive of my response on how God will judge me not my brother . For SSA Christians it is THEIR conscience/choice how to act. Some, based on their reading of scripture will go ahead and have relationships and get married, some will feel scripture prevents this and choose to remain chaste. Heterosexual Christians don't make this choice, but many judge those who do. I like that Paul links this teaching to the final judgement, I ask myself do I risk judgement by my opinion, imagine how would I feel to be stood next to the brother I have condemned standing before God's judgement seat.

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 08 September 2017

    My word live friends this reading today is so helpful..... Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. I have been part of the Anglican community here in our village now for the past three years since I retired as a Minister in The Salvation Army, It has not been the way in which I have been accustomed, but I have soldiered on just trying to love the people. At just the right time God has answered our prayers we have been offered an absolutely beautiful purpose built bungalow near to The Salvation Army and we shall be moving at the end of September. For all of you who have prayed for us thank you, for all who have given valuable advice may the Lord Bless you real good. He knows our every need and he hears us when we pray. Praise Him.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 08 September 2017

    BARBARA - What wonderful news; I am rejoicing with you. May God continue to bless you and your husband.

  • Deborah Lechmere | Friday, 08 September 2017

    We don't seem to have heard from Jane Hill since 18 August praying for her.

  • Hugh Skeil | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Thanks for your helpful comment Kath. However I think sometimes we are pushed into a corner and can't sit on the fence but have to make a judgment on some of these issues, even if we don't want to judge anyone. If your denomination/church council is.having a vote about same sex marriage should everyone abstain?

  • Ruth Lewis | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Praising God alone with you BARBARA!!! Yes indeed, God does answer our Prayers just at the right time. I always say that His time is perfect. Isaiah 40 v28to31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.KJV God is a Mighty God and He is concerned about everything that concerns us Psalm 138:8 I will be praying for you and your husband as you make your move to your new home!!!

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 08 September 2017

    Same sex marriage is the big issue in Australia as we prepare for the plebiscite about legalizing SSM. Hugh, we have to make a decision about our position but let us be careful not to judge others who, in good faith, have a different position. The SSM plebiscite is causing deep divisions in the secular and faith communities so, please, lots of prayers for Australia and, picking up Ray's thoughts, the essentials of faith within this debate.

  • Peter Oliver | Saturday, 09 September 2017

    Paul says in Romans ch1 ,same sex relations is wrong as he does also in 1cor ch6 the old testament condems it many times. GOD is a GOD of love and CHRIST died for these people we must show them love when pointing out their fault.

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