“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.
Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” Romans 14:1-3 ESV
Simple to the Christian, yet profound in application, the verses pertain to the faith-convictions of believers. Guard your faith, O Saint, but do not qualify brother or sister’s faith according to your personal prejudice. Neither scorn or despise your counterpart. Paul applies this to food choices, observance of days, and then life and death of both weak and strong.
Henry Alford commentary remarks: there is, (even in Christianity), “a want of broad and independent principles, and a consequent bondage to prejudices.”
Vincent adds, “Censoriousness is the peculiar error of the ascetic, contemptuousness of the liberal.”
To explain Vincent’s meaning, asceticism means “strict self-denial in personal and spiritual discipline.” Ascetics (weak folks) tend to want to supervise conduct and morals. Contrarily, the liberal person is an openhanded or generous one. These may hold a lack of reverence or respect for their over-scrupulous brother or sister.
Paul gives an exhortation to all people types: “Who are you that you should find fault with the servant of another? Whether he stands or falls is a matter which concerns his own master. But stand he will; for the Master can give him power to stand.” Romans 14:4 Weymouth
Paul summarizes both contempt and ill-respect with perspective from God. The gist: Your brother is a servant to his own master and has every right to privacy in conduct and attitude. One servant sees his master in a stricter, more demanding sense; another sees his master more loving and generous. The commonality : both stand or fall to their own God.
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” Romans 14:12
Point settled, Paul ventures farther.
“…let us not pass judgment on one another any longer.” Romans 14:13a. Knock it off, period. Right Now!
But then what?
” …but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. ” 14:13b
O my. we must consider our fellow believer’s faith, and, in love, not hinder but encourage it. Only as we let our faith be governed by love can we do this. But the point is, drop all resentments and personal prejudice and instead seek peace. See Galatians 5:4.
Romans 14:19 “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” ESV
Paul’s reasoning continues, . ” So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. “Romans 14:16
Basically, Paul discourages the brotherly contempt and disrespect because the bickering will then be evil spoken of by those who watch from outside of the faith. The church is to be known by its love.
“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” Romans 14:22
Finally, the believers walk becomes before God alone. Matthew 6:33 teaches us to seek “kingdom” living. Many have not or do not. However, we love these. We try to help them where their faith allows. We do not judge them. We do not trip them up. We forget “high things” and condescend to men of low estate.
In the meantime, the life of love may lead us here:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Matthew 5:1-11