Chapter fourteen begins with what seems to be a dispute within the community. It does not seem like a huge problem, but something Paul feels necessary to address. Some people feel the need to fast and others do not. Either way, Paul says we do not pass judgement on each other weather others fast or not. Paul says in verse six, “…whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since He gives thanks to God: while whoever abstains, abstains for the Lord and gives thanks to God”. Some people pray and discern that God is calling them to fasting, and that is good. If not, then give praise to God for the food God gives you, that is why we pray before meals. This applies to any other act of devotion as far as the Church is concerned. Some pray the rosary, others have a devotion to the Sacred Heart, still others spend much time in adoration. There are many ways to express our devotion to Our Lord Jesus. God designed us in many ways, to be different signs of God and different lights to the world. However, God calls us to serve Him so that others can experience His goodness is ultimately a good.
Every person must give an account to God for what they have done as stated in verse twelve. We do need to make sure we do what God calls us to do. Yet at the same time, it is important that we cause scandal or put blocks across a person that would keep them from faith in Jesus (v13). If someone is a vegetarian and is offended by the eating of meat, then do not eat meat. If someone has fear around alcohol, then do not drink it. You cannot walk on eggshells, but just use common sense to be gracious. It is not a sin to drink. Just be aware of how things are being perceived and go from there. These things are not the purpose of God, nor should it be used to control. It is simply an act of love that their faith may be built up.
Chapter fifteen reiterates Paul’s call for us to be the strength for those who are weak in faith. This strength is found in our joy that Jesus fills us with hope. One of the purposes of God founding the Church is that we would be a people of encouragement for others when things get tough. Joy is what gives us strength. Ever notice that when you are joyful about life, it is easier to do God’s will? Whenever we do not have joy, the skepticism creeps in and we are less willing to do God’s will. Joy is an important part of faith. God gave it to us so that it would not stay with us. It was meant to go out and manifest itself to others (15:13).
Verse sixteen talks about the purpose of this last part of the letter. He is writing, not that the people he is writing to are evil, but to give instruction as to how to convert the gentiles. He was giving advice about how to deal with some people as well as some troubles from within. The most important thing is that not a soul is lost.
In verse twenty-two, Paul is talking more about the plans and other inner-workings of the needs of the Christian community all over. He would like to get to Spain, but never gets there, as He dies in Rome. Is sounds like a substantial donation has been made for the Church in Jerusalem. The donation came from Macedonia and Achaia. So the Church is already having people from one part of the “world” give donations to help people elsewhere. Something we still do to this day. Paul still plans on getting to Rome and He does do that, just not the way he thought, in chains.