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Romans  ◦   Chapter 14

1The young in Christ often have weak confidence in God and limited understanding of his methods, so don't be critical of them and don't argue over trivial matters.2Consider foods offered to idols: A mature Christian, whose trust in God and understanding of his methods are strong, recognizes that an idol is just a piece of wood or stone that cannot affect the nutrition of the meat offered to it, so they will eat the meat without worry. But the immature Christian, whose trust in God and understanding of his methods is weak, continues to struggle with misconceptions about idols and thinks that maybe the idol has the power to contaminate the meat offered to it, and thus eats only the vegetables that were not set before the idol.3The mature person, who eats everything that is healthy, must not demean or make fun of the person still struggling with fear and insecurity over what they eat; and the person who is afraid to eat all healthy foods must not condemn as wicked the person who eats everything healthy, for they are at peace with God.4Don't you realize it is not your place to make judgments about the condition or quality of another person's servant? The master of the servant determines whether the servant is in good standing or not. And the one who is no longer bound by fear and superstition, and therefore eats everything that is healthy, is in good standing with God, because God has healed that person's mind and renewed their heart.

5One person considers one day more sacred than another; another person considers all days the same. A person’s opinion doesn’t make a day sacred or not sacred, but each person can only benefit by what they have come to understand and believe for themself, so each person must study the evidence and be fully convinced in their own mind.6The person who regards one day as special is choosing to honor the Lord in accordance with their understanding of the truth. The person who eats meat is choosing to honor the Lord by demonstrating that idols are powerless, and instead gives thanks to God for the food; and the person who abstains from eating meat is also honoring God by recognizing that all they have comes from God.7For none of God's children live selfishly any longer, and none of us die alone and abandoned.8If we live, we live for the Lord–a cause greater than ourselves–and if we die, our death will also serve God's cause. So, whether we live or die, we have surrendered all to the Lord.

9This is the very reason Christ died and rose to life again–his was a cause that encompassed more than himself. He died and rose from the dead to heal the universe from distrust of God, selfishness, and death; he is therefore the Lord of both the living and the dead.10Who are you then to judge your brother or sister? Do you think you are somehow better? Why do you belittle and look at others with disdain? Don't you realize that we are all infected with the same sickness and one day all of us will stand before God to see if we have been healed?11It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'everyone will kneel before me and be examined; every mouth will reveal what is the condition of the heart.'"

12So then, each of us will stand before God, and the true condition of our hearts will be revealed.

13Therefore let us stop criticizing and being judgmental toward one another. Instead, realize that each of us is in need of healing, and do all in your power to remove barriers to compliance with God's treatment plan from your own — and also your brother's or sister's — way.14As one who is reconciled to the Lord Jesus, and who is working in union with him, I am fully convinced that no nutritional substance can contaminate the soul or sear the conscience. But if anyone thinks that a certain food is evil, wicked, or somehow wrong to eat, and then eats it anyway, that person will experience guilt, fear, insecurity, confusion, worry, and a damaged mind.15If you know that your brother or sister is struggling with such issues and you purposely, in front of them, eat foods that upset, worry and distress them, you are not acting in love toward your brother or sister. Or if you invite your brother or sister to your home and serve them food offered to idols, knowing they are still fearful of such things, you are not acting in love toward your brother or sister. Do not, by the use of food, place in your brother's or sister's way barriers to compliance with God's healing plan.16Don't practice what you know is good in such a way that it lends itself to be easily misconstrued as evil.17For God's kingdom–his method of governing–is not about control or about a set of rules regarding what to eat and not to eat. God's kingdom is about living in harmony with the principles on which life is based–about doing what is right simply because it is right. Such a kingdom brings peace and joy, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.18Anyone who cooperates with Christ in this way pleases God and is admired by people.

19Let us therefore consider the wellbeing of others, and do whatever we can to assist in their healing and to promote peace with each other.20Do not destroy God's work of rebuilding his character in humanity by arguing over food. All food is clean from such things as demonic influences, or evil spells or curses (though that doesn't mean that everything people eat is healthy for the body), but even though no food is unclean in this way, it is wrong to eat anything that you know will confuse, upset, or somehow undermine your brother's or sister's growth with God.21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine, or do anything that will cause your brother or sister to misunderstand God and fail to experience healing of heart and mind.

22So whatever you believe about such inconsequential things, rather than stir up unnecessary controversy, keep such things between yourself and God. You will be happy and at peace if you don't have superstitious fears about what you eat.23But the person who eats food and then is afraid or guilt-ridden because of superstitious fears, damages their mind, because they are eating without trusting God; and everything that doesn't stem from trust in God is sin.