Read Romans 14
Focus on verse 14
You are what you think…
It never ceases to amaze me how the clothes I wear sometimes affect the way I think of myself. For instance, when I am wearing my old grubby work clothes to work out on the yard or in the garage, I carry myself differently than when I am wearing my tuxedo to attend or perform with the Symphonic Chorale. I notice that it also changes the way other people look at me and respond to me.
In today’s reading Paul continues to elaborate on the importance of not judging one another over the things we call clean or unclean. Apparently some of the followers of Jesus who had come from Jewish background were disdainful toward some of the Gentile believers who did not follow Jewish washing and dietary laws. Paul makes it clear that despite his background as a Pharisee, he no longer considered any foods unclean, yet in the presence of his Jewish brothers and sisters he would abstain for their sake so as not to needlessly offend a brother or sister.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. (v. 14)
What Paul is suggesting here is that we should not only not partake of food or activity that our own conscience forbids, but we should also be considerate of the conscience of those around us who may find some of our actions offensive.
The point here is that if we believe something to be wrong – it would be wrong for us to do that thing. For example – if I believe that consuming alcohol is sinful, then for me it would violate my conscience to do so. On the other hand, for a person for whom the consumption of alcohol is not a problem, their conscience is not violated by it, so provided they are not using it in an abusive way, or becoming intoxicated, they are committing no sin. What Paul is suggesting here is that in this case it would however, be a violation for this second person to consume alcohol in my presence knowing that it might cause me to violate my conscience. In this case it would be better for him or her to abstain for my sake, even though it would not be a violation of their conscience to do so.