By Ronnie Milliner
We all enter God’s family at different times. We mature at different rates. How are those who are more mature or stronger in the faith to treat those who are weaker? How should the weak react to the strong? Paul deals with these relationships in Romans 14:1-15:13.
Not Damning (14:1-12)
Paul admonishes, “Receive the one who is weak in the faith” (14:1a). The realm in which Paul is dealing in this section of Scripture is the area of opinion (14:1b, NASB). This point is important to remember for some individuals want to apply the writer’s instruction to areas unauthorized by the Word of God.
Two examples are given-one in the matter of diet, the other in the matter of day-keeping. “One believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables” (14:2). In the other area, “one person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike” (14:5a). If a man chooses to eat only vegetables, he is not violating any sacred principle. The man is not to be condemned for his actions, neither is he to try to bind his personal view on other brethren.
The reason we are not to condemn our weaker brethren is that we are not the Master (14:1), we are not the Lord (14:7-9), we are not the Judge (14:10-12). “Each of us shall give account of himself to God” (14:2).
Not Deterring (14:13-23)
In dealing with our weaker brethren we should not “put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (14:13). A man should not be caused to violate his conscience, for if he does he is sinning (14:23). Can you imagine destroying one spiritually “with your food the one for whom Christ died” (14:15)? Is my food (or my “rights”) more important than my brother’s soul? Instead of demanding our way, “let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (14:19-20).
Not Dividing (15:1-13)
The stronger need to carry the weaker, not put them down. Build up, not tear down. Christ was certainly one who was not looking out for just self. He was willing to sacrifice Himself for others, and so should we. Even though there may be differences of knowledge due to different stages of maturity, we should still be one. “Be like-minded toward one another . . . that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15:5-6). Never should God’s people divide over matters of indifference.
We are a family. Families have problems and differences, but they seek to resolve their problems. God, our Father, has told us, His children, how to handle our problems. We can settle any matter if we will follow His will. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification”
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 18, p. 548
September 19, 1985