Day 36

The Law of Love

from the Romans reading plan


Romans 14:13-23, 1 Corinthians 8:8-13, Ephesians 4:25-32, Ephesians 5:1-2

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Romans 14:13-23, 1 Corinthians 8:8-13, Ephesians 4:25-32, Ephesians 5:1-2

I’ve always heard this passage in Romans 14 interpreted according to clothing, music, alcohol, smoking, and more—all in terms of “not being a stumbling block for others.” I was tender to my power to be a stumbling block of every sort, both to the believing and the unbelieving, checking over my shoulder to see the carnage I’d left in my wake. Truth was, I left hardly any, but it didn’t stop me from metaphorically cutting off arms and legs, gouging out eyes and the like, in pursuit of protecting my brothers and sisters.

The Christian life, I thought, was more about what I couldn’t do than what I could.

How glorious, then, when the true gospel began to take root in my heart. I began to understand that freedom in Christ meant I was truly free to live. As it turns out, Christ had declared me more than clean. He’d declared me redeemed.

For all the ways I’d formerly applied this passage, though, the one I’d not considered was food. I knew all food had been declared clean, that we’re no longer under the law of Moses in our dietary restrictions. But what I didn’t understand was the law of our current world with regard to food: the diet and exercise industry. Everywhere I look, the acceptable Christian message of caring for the temple of the Holy Spirit turns into what I imagine Paul might’ve called the “god of the belly” (Philippians 3:19).

In Philippians 3, Paul warns of the dangers of gluttony. But today, in modern culture, the opposing god—though a no less despicable one—is the one who demands less food, more restrictions, better supplements, flatter stomachs, tighter abs, and the list goes on. In an attempt to care for the temples of the Holy Spirit with eating and exercising, we can destroy our bodies (which are wasting away, whether we like it or not) and cause harm to the impressionable hearts and minds of others who jump on every new regime or diet we offer.

We want to be well, to eat healthy, whole, good food. We love the rhythms of feasting and fasting we see in Scripture. We want to move our bodies, staying limber and active. But we don’t want to destroy our hearts by lusting after what we don’t have: slimmer physiques and sculpted thighs. We don’t want to destroy our bodies by rebounding from one quick-fix supplement to another. We don’t want to destroy our minds by believing our approval comes from certain lifestyles or appearances.

There are countless difficulties in life, opportunities to be divided over race, gender, theology, and history. And food, instead of becoming a means to crush those divides—to draw near to one another, armed with soups, fruits, breads, vegetables, and meats—has become one more line of division.

Christ died for all; this is what the Bible says. I don’t want to be known by what I eat or don’t eat. I want to be known by how I love and Who I’m loved by.

So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. Do not tear down God’s work because of food (Romans 14:19-20).

Whatever struggle you’re caught in the throes of today, know that you are loved by Christ. He spread His own body, bleeding and broken, to fit a cross you could never bear on your own. Don’t destroy your own body by what you do or don’t eat. Christ died for all—every curve, every bulge, and every stretch-mark—all of it.

For “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). God gives us food as a means of provision, not division. Instead of fostering false divisions today, let’s bake a cake, make a soup or a sandwich, and share it with someone in the pursuit of peace.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

Post Comments (99)

99 thoughts on "The Law of Love"

  1. Della says:

    It’s imraietpve that more people make this exact point.

  2. ouwemedimo says:

    it finally makes sense. yes, he is talking about food, but buried beneath the words is thus idea that everything we are doing is a response to what other people will think about us. His word in verse 18 said,”1Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Are the “good” things, we do prompted by what God thinks of us or what other imperfect people like ourselves think of us? This scripture challenges us to strive for habits pleasing to God and in doing so, we actually will bring sheep into his flock. Have a blessed day, shepherds!

    1. Krista says:

      Thank you for your insight.

  3. Tammy Sites says:

    Some things of this world seem insignificant, yet in reality are sins against Christ. For instance, if my sister-in-Christ is on a quest for a healthy diet so her body will function better, and I taunt her with a piece of Carmel chocolate cheesecake, I am placing a stumbling block in her path. I am truly sinning against Christ because that was not done out of faith, but of gluttony. Seems insignificance on the surface but in spiritual terms, very significant. I will think twice before encouraging someone to do things they believe they should not do.

    1. BennyB says:

      Awesome point!! Was just pondering on these verses.

  4. Emily Smith says:

    “I want to be known by how I love and Who I’m loved by.” I really love what you said there! I want people to look at me and see Jesus’s love displayed!

  5. PronetoWander says:

    Something I thought about this weekend was, is it a stumbling block to them or their legalistic views of Christianity? Should I change the way I live to fit into a mold that someone else approves of? I think the answer is no! Showing Christ’s love in whatever I do is more important than me making sure whatever I do can be seen as acceptable to everyone’s personal opinions. If someone thinks I’m not a Christian because I drink wine, I think them wrestling though that with God could be a good thing. Christianity is not a set of rules. It’s freedom! And if we love God we won’t take that as a free ticket, we want to serve him! I want to serve God with my life not obey commands of people who set rules and standards we can never achieve. I want to show love not laws.

    1. Zoe says:

      I think this passage is especially talking about our witness to weaker Christians. It will be impossible to live our lives in a way that pleases everyone, so you’re right to say that our first priority should be following Christ and living lives characterized by love. However, if in our exercise of our Christ-given freedom, we cause a brother or sister to stumble in his/her faith, then perhaps we should reevaluate whether the behavior is more important, or the person it affects.

  6. Natasha says:

    When eating almost anything it is a constant reminder to me that we need something outside of ourselves to sustain us… a reminder how much we need Jesus If you eat 3 meals a day, plus communion you get 22 times a week to be reminded of Gods provision and to experience a foretaste of heaven by the food we are blessed with!

  7. Juleeta C Harvry says:

    Thank you for this post. My dear friend forwarded it to me, and your words further encourage me to write about body image as it reflects our pursuing God’s truth. Well done, sister!
    I would appreciate any feedback you have, especially on any of the February posts.
    http://www.juleetacharvey.org

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