The Weak and the Strong
Romans 14 NIV
14 “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 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. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]
12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
13 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.14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.“
Yes, I know, that’s a pretty big quotation.
I just could not downsize it because to do so would mess up the context and the intent of what the Apostle Paul is getting at. And yes, I have taken the liberty of putting some of the text in bold for emphasis.
Here the Apostle Paul is talking about Christian believers who judge one another by what they eat or by what days they celebrate. But if you look at the greater context, what we are talking about here is the comparison between a Christian who has faith that is weak and a Christian who has faith that is strong.
The believer with strong faith is not to hold the believer with weak faith in contempt nor is the believer with weak faith to hold the believer with strong faith in contempt. Both have been accepted by the Lord. Notice that judging one another is also mentioned. Also note that it is the Lord who will make both stand.
Do you think that the Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about? Do you think that he had sufficient experience and understanding in what was acceptable to the Lord and what was not acceptable? I personally would say that the answer is yes and yes. The Apostle Paul definitely had sufficient experience and in all probability, more understanding in this issue of judging one another, we’re talking about Christian believers here, than you or I do. So I would have a tendency to think that this is pretty authoritative, something that we should REALLY pay attention to.
One believer holds up one day as sacred or special, and another holds up all days as sacred or special, end result, Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. I’m pretty sure that the same goes for the one that holds up all days as sacred.
Paul’s next statement: “You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt?”
Is this not the key issue that Paul is addressing? Our quickness to judge one another or hold one another in distain because of the shallowness of someone’s “faith” by one who supposedly has “greater” faith?
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.
Now what might that stumbling block or obstacle be? Could it be our quickness to judge, could it be our quickness to look down on someone who is not as “learned” as us in the scriptures? Have you ever been guilty of doing this? I know I have.
“If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.” I’m pretty sure the same goes with regard to a day that your brother or sister holds up as sacred. But what is the underlying principle at work here, what is Paul getting at?
“Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”
So the kingdom of God is not primarily focused on what we eat or what day we set aside as sacred but what is of importance is righteousness, displayed in love, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and I’m thinking this would have a tendency to be the goal for both the weak in faith and also the strong in faith.
If I am having a BBQ and I usually have a beer available for someone who might enjoy one but I know that one of those who will be attending is currently having issues dealing with alcohol, then in love, I will ensure that beer is not available. As a Christian, I see no problem with having a beer or a glass of wine BUT I obviously do not condone getting drunk etc. However, even though I am confident that God does not mind me having a beer or a glass of wine, upon occasion, it does not give me license to put a stumbling block in front of a weaker Christian who is experiencing difficulties in that area. Just in case you are wondering, I think I have had two beers in the last two years, I’m just using this as an example.
If the liberty that you have in faith might be offensive to someone weaker in faith, then in love, for the weaker in faith, don’t do anything that the weaker in faith might take as being offensive or be the cause of them stumbling.
Are you aware that Jesus gave us a stern warnings about doing this kind of thing?
Matthew 5:22-24 NIV “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.“
This is the verse that I think is the crux of what Paul is getting at: So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.
Don’t impose your beliefs on issues that are not carved into stone, upon others and be especially careful not to look down on those who may hold different views on these secondary issues, than you do.
I’d love to get feedback on this one!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!