16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Romans 14:14-21
No Christian would want to insist on eating meat if he knew that his eating would embolden another believer to sin against his conscience, fall into sin, and maybe fall away from Christ. Why? Because “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” In other words, what kind of food we eat is not important in God’s kingdom. What matters is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”! Our goal is not to defend our own freedoms, but to pursue peace in the church, and to build up other believers in their faith. This kind of life is “acceptable to God and approved of men”
Perhaps Paul saw that both the strong group and the weak group were beginning to make big things out of little things. Maybe they were forgetting the really important things like “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” To argue over inconsequential things like food and drink and special days is to forget that the Holy Spirit has ushered in a new age of life and love and peace. If you don’t care about how your freedoms are affecting others, you are not practicing righteousness, and you are in danger of destroying the peace in the church, and sucking out all the joy as well. Although the strong wanted to believe that the Holy Spirit was on their side in this dispute, and the weak wanted to believe that the Holy Spirit was on their side, neither side was being led by the Holy Spirit.
The Christian who emphasizes “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” is the true servant of Christ.
Love for fellow Christians is the sure sign of a Christian. Disagreements about small things do not lead to “mutual upbuilding,” but rather a tearing down and destroying of God’s work.
Paul does not advise against all eating of meat and drinking of wine, but only that which “causes your brother to stumble,” that is, causes him to sin against his conscience and be in danger of falling away from Christ. Paul adds the words “or do anything” to include any other possible disagreements. Every age of the church and every location will have different disagreements about what Christians are allowed to do and not allowed to do.
Something considered good can be bad if it causes a brother to sin. Don’t let your good be evil spoken of.