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Romans 14:15

ESV For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
NIV If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.
NASB For if because of food your brother or sister is hurt, you are no longer walking in accordance with love. Do not destroy with your choice of food that person for whom Christ died.
CSB For if your brother or sister is hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy, by what you eat, someone for whom Christ died.
NLT And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died.
KJV But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

What does Romans 14:15 mean?

Paul has described a scenario that was likely happening frequently in the early church. One group understood that in Christ they had been freed from following the law, so they freely enjoyed eating meat that may not have been kosher to eat under the law. The second group could not yet allow themselves to step outside the restrictions of the law. They may even have agreed, in principle, that it was allowed; it just felt wrong to them for Christians to do such a thing. Paul wrote in the previous verse that if they felt that way, it would in truth be wrong for them to violate their conscience.

Now Paul turns to those who are enjoying their freedom in Christ at the spiritual expense of Christians who believe it to be wrong. Paul says, abruptly, that a believer can't flaunt his or her freedom while claiming to love their fellow Christian. More dramatically, he says we must not, for the sake of food, destroy someone for whom Christ died.

In other words, Christians with a faith strong enough to allow them to eat meat and participate in other disputed activities must not demand their freedoms at the expense of their siblings in Christ. Even if they believe—or know for sure (Romans 14:14)—that the other person's conviction is wrong. In doing so, they may lead the one whose faith is weak to violate his conscience. Such a choice would be a sin.

This teaching may sound hard to us in a culture that values personal freedom so dearly. Paul has already made it abundantly clear in Romans 12 and 13, however, that the culture of the church is meant to be one in which Christians set themselves aside for the good of the Lord and of each other. At the same time, the idea of a "stumbling block" (Romans 14:13) is not meant to give more-legalistic Christians a leash to control the behavior of others. Paul's comments here are directed at the more-spiritually-assured person, but context makes it clear that they aren't meant to enable others to take on the role of judge (Romans 14:10; Colossians 2:16–23).
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