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. Kristel Kazda says:

    This is amazing and so good for the soul. I truly love this perspective of scripture and I will be sharing this with others because it really helped me. From someone who has been in the diet world since being a little girl this resonates with me. Thank you for sharing and I cannot wait to read more of your posts on your blog. He loves me just as I am.

  2. Amen!! 38 weeks pregnant and having lots of stretch marks and even more pains w contractions starting… I needed to be reminded that God died for all of me and loves me just as I am this morning! His love is always enough.

    1. Beth S says:

      I am 35 weeks pregnant with my 2nd and was just looking at all my stretch marks last night, noticing how I have even more new ones, some on top of my old ones, and thinking that I don’t feel very lovely. I appreciate seeing that I’m not the only one going through this right now, and it’s encouraging to be reminded that God loves all of me, too. Thank you for posting this. :)

  3. Kari says:

    Wow thank you Lore! I’ve always just kinda skipped over this passage of Romans. You brought an entirely new meaningful significance to it that I can’t help but ignore! What a tricky one to interpret, but you made it so simple!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Chapter 14 has been my Freedom Chapter. I have loved every word of this chapter. From today’s reading if I had to pick the one that just had me so excited was v19, “So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.” My Rhema for the day! Love, love, love this Chapter!!! I pray that you each found a blessing in this Chapter.

  5. CF says:

    Sincere question: Where in the Bible does Jesus declare all foods clean? I know about that phrase in parenthesis found in Scripture, but it was added many years later by an uninspired man, which is why it is in parenthesis. I also know about the dream/vision, but this was not about food, but about accepting the Gentiles.

    1. Lizzieb85 says:

      I’m not sure it is expressly written out, but it is implied on the basis that the old covenant & levitical law is rendered obsolete by Jesus’ death & resurrection. He is the new covenant. We are free from the law because belief in Jesus means we are no longer under the law, but under grace.

      1. CF says:

        I do appreciate your reply. My husband and I are on a spiritual journey trying to understand exactly how to love and serve God. We have grown up in the church but are beginning to question things we have been taught. We are constantly seeking answers, so please don’t be offended by my questions; they are sincere, and we just want to grow our faith and relationship with God.

        One of my other questions is this: God established those food laws because He knew those animals were extremely unhealthy and only wants the best for our lives, more so for our temples, which are our bodies. To eat something unclean such as pork would be defiling our temples. So why would Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection remove this law? It would be like saying God no longer cares about our health. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection didn’t change how unhealthy a pig is, so I’m struggling to understand why God now would allow for us to eat pork. Please shed any light you may have on this.

        Another question is this: If we are no longer supposed to worry about keeping the Old Covenant laws, why then do we continue to keep, for example, 9 of the 10 commandments? Those are part of the old covenant, so why are those still relevant?

        My husband and I have so many questions and are desperately searching for answers, which is why I posted here in this comment section.

        1. Lizzieb85 says:

          Interesting. I’ve never looked into it myself, I was just sharing what I’ve been told. I have no answers for you (with regards to unclean vs clean) & may even look further into this myself. I would say, overall, go with what you feel the Holy Spirit is directing you to. (And to be honest, I think a lot of us eat a lot of stuff that is not great for our temples, not just pork.) I think that those types of convictions are what Paul is talking about. Do I think I am sinning when I eat a bowl of icecream? No. But maybe I am because I am not honoring the body God gave me. I think there are people out there who really DO take very good care of their bodies as an act of worship & thankfulness. But there are a lot of people who don’t. We are NOT considered righteous because we are a perfection of health, but we (Christians) are also not condemned because we are not. That is where the freedom comes in. I eat pork. I eat icecream. The Bible is explicit about the pork. It is not about the icecream. How do you draw that line? I dunno. But that’s where there is freedom. I will not judge someone who does not eat pork based on their personal convictions. But then I hope I am not judged (spiritually) for eating icecream.

          With regards to the 10 commandments, Jesus does reiterate that those are to be upheld. He says the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with your whole self. This encompasses commandments 1-4. Then he says the second greatest is to love others more than you would yourself– actually, to love them as HE loved us, completely & self-sacrificially. This encompasses commandments 6-10. But again: we are not considered righteous because we are the best neighbor ever. And we (as Christians) are not condemned because we aren’t.

          Any & all sin condemns us. But ONLY belief in Jesus as Lord & Savior saves/redeems us. When we believe, we are cleansed of ALL sin, past present & future. When we put our faith in Jesus & His work on the cross, nothing else we do can separate us & condemn us eternally. Does our sin still hurt us? Yes. But it does not condemn us. Will eating pork hurt us? Yes. But it will not condemn us. (And then this goes back to the “What then” passages in Romans about continuing in sin because grace is abundant. But there are things that are not explicit in scripture & we are all just doing our best. And that looks different for everyone.)

          I hope that helps a little bit. I feel like I may have rambled.

  6. Alexa says:

    “Don’t destroy your heart by lusting after what you don’t have. […] 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.”
    This REALLY made my day.

  7. Eva says:

    At the risk of sounding shallow…So much of the beauty images in our society are unique to our culture-living in China as a red headed person with untannable skin I realize how what is beautiful in Caucasian western culture (tan) is considered ugly in another (in ancient times the rich women could sit inside and preserve their fair skin while the manual laboror women had brown weathered skin). For the first time in my life I have zero pressure to get a tan and it is revolutionary!!! when that issue is completely off the table it is just a small taste of that freedom that we will wholly experience when we are in eternity with Christ.

    1. Becky says:

      What an interesting observation! I love those glimpses of the heavenly home we are looking forward to.

  8. Emily says:

    I’ll gladly delete if this isn’t allowed, but would you guys pretty please like and share my mom’s Facebook page? She’s trying her hardest to start up her own business after all her years as a homeschool mom. She is a photographer who does FANTASIC work, but she’s having some trouble with getting bookings. So, likes, shares, and prayers? Thanks!

    https://www.facebook.com/debbielphotography/

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