GUARD YOUR OWN HEART
"Accept one another whose faith is weak without quarrelling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows him to eat anything but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge another man's servant? To their own master servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand." Romans 14:1-4.
Is this really a problem today? Who cares what another believer eats or wears or even drives or lives in?
In the Apostle Paul's day, it was an issue for both Jew and Gentile believers - Jews because their conscience was shaped by the dietary laws of their religion and culture, and Gentiles because they bought their meat from the market after it had been offered to idols.
There were two matters of conscience that had to be dealt with: What effect did the food they ate have on their spirits, and did meat offered to idols in a pagan temple have any power to influence them? But, for Paul there was another and more subtle problem - that of judging.
From God's perspective, judging was more serious than what a person ate. Remember what Jesus said about food? Since it goes into the stomach and passes out of the body, it does not have any power over a person's heart. It is from the heart, not from what one eats, that wickedness in all its forms originates, and what one eats cannot change the heart, for good or evil. On the other hand, judging another person is a subtle form of idolatry because the one who judges sets himself above the other person.
What about eating meat that had been offered to idols? Does that meat not have the power to influence the eater for evil? Was there not some sort of demonic transfer that took place when the meat was offered to the idol? It all depends on what a person believes.
Never forget that the devil is a liar and that the only language he speaks is the language of lies. His most powerful weapon is deception. He holds people captive to fear only if they believe that he still has power over them. Jesus exposed and utterly defeated him at the cross but he tries to hold people captive by suggesting that he has power over them.
It is up to every believer to decide who his master is? How tragic that many Christians still fear the devil although they say that they trust in Jesus. In the everyday, practical issues of life, we have to ask the question, "Did the cross work?" According to Jesus, when He cried out, "It is finished!" on the cross, He completed everything necessary to reverse what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. He made a public spectacle of the devil, unmasked and defeated him and took away his power to deceive and destroy.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." Colossians 2:13-15.
What kind of food we eat and where we got it from should never be an issue because it has no power to influence our hearts except the power we give it when we act out of fear and not faith. However, when we judge someone who has no problem with what he eats because our faith is weak, we usurp the role of master and set ourselves up as the standard of judgment.
"Let it go," said Paul. "He has a Master who will take care of him. It's not your problem." When we try to control someone else, we subtly expose our own insecurity. When we judge another, we expose our own guilt. Our mouths are the mirror of our hearts. By focussing on someone else's supposed weakness or guilt, we deflect attention from ourselves in case we are exposed.
What is the solution? Rest in Jesus and take care of your own conscience. Trust God. You are not responsible for your brother's conscience.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.