Whenever I hear The Word and it’s on the topics of food or eating, I pay a little extra attention. What can I say? I like food!
But when The Word serves up the topics of eating and judgment, I’m all ears. It’s like, “Yes, you have my full attention.”
One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.Romans 14:2-3 NIV
I only eat vegetables, but I wouldn’t say my faith is weak. Unfortunately, I don’t know the full context in which these words were written. I eat vegan (no animal products). The reason I started was to reduce my carbon footprint, but I keep doing it because I realize it has power in my spiritual journey and it helps me develop discipline. No matter what religious tradition or not a person hails from, pretty much everyone can acknowledge that discipline is not weakness—it’s strength. It’s just another reason to read The Word for the truth it holds instead of the literal meaning and application of particular words or ideas.
Back to eating: I spend very little time scrutinizing what other people eat on a micro level, but I am very interested in how we eat on the macro level.
I find myself wondering where food originates from and how it’s packaged. Can the people who harvested or processed the food afford to eat it, too? Are there people going hungry while food is being wasted? Do we have enough corner markets with fresh food in them so the elderly, the disabled, and people who prefer to walk have easy access, and is it affordable?
Thinking about big questions like those keeps me from scrutinizing the choices of individual people. The degree to which a person makes healthy choices or implements discipline in their lives is a matter of their spiritual journeys.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.Romans 14:13 NIV
That means you don’t have to over-help people, either. If you believe a person looks hungry, invite them to eat with you. However, be careful that you aren’t simply offering food to them from a place of judgment. If you do, they will see right through the gesture.