Rom 14:16-19 “Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
In the previous verses of this chapter, Paul has pointed out the fact that we are not all in the same place in our understanding. One brother is fine with eating meat while another will only eat herbs. Some celebrate certain days above others, and others treat every day the same. The common factor in all of this is that if we are doing it for the right reasons and in the right way, then God gets the glory.
We have been admonished that handling things in the right way and for the right reasons includes not offending a brother whose faith is weaker. Now Paul tells us that it is our responsibility to take care in how we handle that which we deem to be good. It is common among men for us to take the attitude that if someone else does not like the way we approach life then that is their problem. As long as I know that whatever I am allowing is not unclean (see verse 14), then it does not matter what my brother thinks about it.
This is the very attitude we are being warned against. If my faith allows me to eat meat, yet I know that doing so offends my brother, then I should keep that to myself. I am not exercising charity to deliberately offend a brother. I should not handle that which I deem to be good in my life in such a way that others could speak disparagingly of it.
Our focus should not be on whether our right to eat or drink is being infringed upon when it comes to how we entreat our brother. Instead, we should be focused on the kingdom of God here. The kingdom of God is righteousness. Righteousness says that we should humbly prefer our brothers and sisters before ourselves (Php 2:3).
The kingdom of God is peace. It is the place where we prosper in quietness and rest for our souls. The kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Ghost. It is the place where we should find calm delight in the thing of God and in loving our brethren.
Service to Christ is not found in a self-serving attitude. Insisting on having our way regardless of the distress we might cause to a brother of weaker faith is not acceptable before Him. Rather, serving in righteousness, peace, and joy is well pleasing to God our Father. While we do not do it to garner men’s approval, we will still find that those around us will find our service of humility acceptable rather than contemptable.
We should not live in a way that gives rise to that which is good in our lives to be spoken of disapprovingly. Instead, let us seek those things which make for peace. It does not have to be some elaborate action. If I enjoy contemporary gospel music and I am in the company of a brother or sister who does not find it comforting, then I can sing one of the old hymns in which we can both rejoice.
Our ultimate desire should be to see our brothers and sisters edified in the things of God. We should want to apply ourselves to those things that allow us to sit down together and worship Him in peace and joy. We should seek to lift up those whose faith is weaker and rejoice that those who are stronger in faith than we show us the same charity. We should diligently pursue those things that make for peace.
May we exercise the grace God has bestowed upon us to edify one another in the kingdom of God!