Those who eat any kind of food do so to honour the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord (Romans 14:6).

How do you discover God’s will in disputable matters? One believer in Jesus orders a glass of wine in a restaurant, while another believes drinking alcohol is wrong. One invites you to see a film that someone else will not view due to its violence and profanity. So how do you make a decision on whether or not to do something when even mature Christians disagree over it?

This question troubled the church in Rome. Some Christians felt obligated to observe Jewish dietary and Sabbath laws, while others believed they no longer applied. Paul sided with the latter, but he thought that was beside the point. More important than who was right was how everyone got along. Paul offered three questions that apply to any decision:

Am I violating another believer’s freedom? Paul told those who possess a weaker faith not to condemn those who “eat certain foods” or “think every day is alike” (Romans 14:3-10). Each person must answer to God, who alone “will judge whether they stand or fall” (Romans 14:4). We must give each other space to stand before God, condemning only activities that Scripture clearly indicates are wrong.

Will this edify other believers? Paul warned stronger believers in Jesus not to flaunt their freedom, for they could “ruin someone for whom Christ died” (Romans 14:15). The right thing done in the wrong way is still sin. Paul explained, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble” (Romans 14:21).

Can I thank God for this? This gratitude test is the defining question for everyone (Romans 14:6). Can I offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God before this activity and after I’m done? If so, enjoy your freedom in Jesus. If not, then you should abstain. May God be honoured in our decisions!

This passage first appeared on

The Gratitude Test