Honoring God requires loving and living in unity with believers. I have frequently heard Christians summarize the greatest commands given by God as love God and love people. This command is presented with so much simplicity, yet the more you read the Bible the more depth is added to the command to love. As I read Romans 14, I was confronted by the motive of love and obedience presented in this passage. The author called believers not to judge since they are the Lord’s and commended them not to cause others to stumble because Christ died for them. Believers should walk in love.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”Romans 14:8 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.”Romans 14:15 ESV
In verse fifteen, the author commands believers not to grieve others by what they eat; however, this does not just apply to food but more broadly to every conviction that is not foundational to salvation. The church is called to unity as we read in verse 19:
“So then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding”
Sadly, when I look at the church and believers, I usually find divisions, judgement, and comparison. This is not what the church is meant to be. The church should be unified in love and believers should be pursuing to build each other up. The trinity provides a beauty example of unity and God desires his church to display that unity, which is why we find the commands in Romans 14 not to judge or cause others to stumble.
Ultimately, I was struck by the weight of verse 15 when the author said, “. . . do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.” This is such a powerful statement. When I am tempted to judge my brothers and sisters in Christ, I must remember that Christ died for them too. If there is anything I have learned from this passage, it is to not forget the price that Christ paid for other believers and the weight of his love for them because that reality humbles me and reminds me to love them.