In my last post we started talking about our relationship with young believers. We looked at the first verse in Romans chapter 14.
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
Those who are young in Christ, also called weak in the faith, don’t have the experience of maturity. We shouldn’t be passing judgment on them because of their limited faith.
Paul had a similar teaching for the Corinthian church. He explains to them that idols are nothing. So, food sacrificed to them is nothing bad.
But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
1 Corinthians 8:7-8
That’s one of the problems that weak believers have. They feel that in order to please God, there are certain rules they must adhere to. Sometimes they get down on themselves, thinking that they failed God by breaking one of these rules.
Please understand that I’m not talking about self-righteous, Pharisaical believers. These are people who come up with a list of man-made rules which they try to impose on all those around them.
These legalistic Christians are still categorized as weak believers. The difference is that they should be further along, yet choose to be stuck in legalism.
The verse in Romans, above tells us to receive the weak, young believers to ourselves. Literally, we are to show them hospitality and share fellowship with them.
But, the purpose of this fellowship is not for judgmental debating over things that are not black and white in Scripture. In Paul’s day, this included food sacrificed to idols, observing special days, washings, ceremonies, etc.
To us, this might include, drinking alcohol (not drunkenness), dancing, gambling, and other things not covered by the Scripture. This does not include things that Scripture clearly calls out as sinful, such as murder, porn, racism, etc.
One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.
To Paul, it’s all a matter of faith. No matter what your choice in things not covered by Scripture, we don’t look down on those who choose differently. The apostle is actually talking to both groups in this section.
It literally says that if you eat everything, don’t despise or consider him worthless if your brother or sister takes a different viewpoint. If you have placed yourself under a set of rules, don’t judge or condemn those who haven’t.
The reason for this is clear. It’s God who receives people into His kingdom. He hasn’t placed you as the gatekeeper to allow or deny entrance into the family of Christ.
Because we’re all in the same body, it’s not up to you to reject those whom God has accepted in Christ. This is the key; you’re not the judge. It’s God who makes the final decision. And, it’s God who’s able to establish all believers.
The bottom line is that on black and white issues of sin, there’s a proper way to handle it outlined in Scripture. But, on debatable things, let the Holy Spirit do His work in the hearts of individuals.
Question: What’s your attitude towards those who think differently than you do?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi