May 13, 2012 in Chapters

Eating Food in Faith with Love and Thanksgiving

In the 14th chapter of Romans, Paul discusses different attitudes towards eating and gives instruction from God on how to approach different social situations involving food.

Romans 14:1-2:
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak {in faith according to verse 1}, eats vegetables only. (NASB)

More mature believers are to accept the one who is weak in faith.  This verse does not say why the weak person only eats vegetables, but there are other passages in the Scripture that reveal two possible reasons.  If they were Jewish believers, they were concerned about breaking the Law’s dietary ordinances against certain meats, which was discussed earlier in the book of Romans, or they were concerned that the meat had been sacrificed to an idol.  It is unlikely that one of the reasons for not eating meat was the “health conscience” vegetarianism of today since eating meat, particularly pork (often from a boar offered in ritual sacrifice to the gods of the Gentiles), was the standard cuisine for the main meal in both ancient Rome and Greece.

Romans 14:3-6:
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.  Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

Each individual is to be “fully persuaded in his own mind” regarding his food choices or special worship times.  People’s food preferences and nutritional needs vary based on several factors including genetics and blood type, environment and climate, culture and traditions, and physical activity and stress.  People can differ in their choices and still honor God.  The most important principle is that one can honestly give thanks to God.  Verses 7-11 are parenthetical and explain how none of us lives unto ourselves and the passage continues declaring our responsibilities toward God and our fellow believers.

This is just an excerpt from "Food in the Bible."  For the full chapter, you may download the book here.