As we move into Romans chapter 14 the topic before us concerns the relationships of stronger and weaker Christians to one another. All of us are at different stages of spiritual maturity. Most of us who have been Christians very long consider ourselves stronger than we probably should. We all tend to think we have a better understanding of Scripture than others. Be cautious concerning such an attitude.
WHO IS A WEAKER BROTHER OR SISTER IN CHRIST?
We are all weak in some areas of spiritual understanding or practical living. That’s one reason we go to church and sit under the teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Because all of us are sometimes blind to our areas of weakness, we need to learn to esteem and prefer one another to ourselves, as we learned in Romans 12:10. Because we are often blind to our own faults and weaknesses, Paul challenges in Philippians 2:3 to esteem others as better than ourselves.
That’s quite difficult for most of us who have been Christians very long. We each tend to think we have a more accurate understanding of Biblical truth and that we are stronger Christians and know the best methods of church polity and worship.
In Romans 14 we’re going to identify two kinds of Christians who needed to recognize and receive those they considered as weaker Christians.
First, the new Christian coming from Jewish background. His conscience was weakened by holding on to the ceremonial system of the Old Testament Law. He was offended by and looked down on the new Gentile believers who saw no problem with eating meats forbidden by the Old Testament ceremonial law and by failing to observe the special days proscribed by that Law.
And then there were the Gentile believers. They had their weaknesses also. They were calloused and unloving as they looked down on and despised the new believers coming out of Judaism with all their Jewish “baggage” just as many Christians today look down on and despise as “legalistic” Christians who simply desire to please God by doing what they believe to be right and avoiding what they believe to be displeasing to God. The Jews judged their Gentile brothers in Christ and the Gentile believers despised their brothers in Christ coming from Judaism.
This still goes on in churches today. We tend to judge or despise those who do not meet our criteria for being “good Christians”. Do we fail to understand that all we are and all we have is by God’s grace? Do we understand that in Christ we are free from the Old Testament Ceremonial Law? Read of that wonderful truth again in Romans 8:1-4.
At the same time, we love God’s moral law, His standards of right and wrong taught throughout the Bible from both the Old and New Testament. Like the Psalmist, that Law is written in our hearts and we delight to do His will. The fact is that if we are Christians, the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and He gives us the desire and the enablement to fulfill God’s Law as we are surrendered to Christ, whose Spirit dwells in us as Christians. Read Romans 8 again until you fully grasp this vital truth.
Though all of us have areas of weakness, we are growing stronger if we are in the Word as we learn in I Peter 2:2 and I John 2:12-14. But the Christian who ignores God’s Word is growing weaker and more susceptible to the snares of Satan. He is carnal or fleshly rather than spiritual, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 3:1-3.
How can you recognize a fleshly, weak Christian? He boasts of his supposed spiritual gifts and yet does not know how to use them to be a blessing to others. Read I Corinthians 4:7-10 on this. He is full of himself and proudly and judgmentally looks down on others, as described in Romans 15:1. On the other hand, Jesus is “touched by the feelings of our infirmities”. Hebrews 4:15
HOW THEN ARE WE TO DEAL WITH WEAKER BRETHREN?
We are to receive them warmly. Romans 14:1 God’s love flowing through us is the secret of interpersonal relationships with other Christians.
We are not to argue with them. We can discuss doctrine freely and lovingly with strong, mature Christians. But be cautious about arguing with a weaker Christian.
Don’t despise or judge another Christian. Romans 14:1-3
Be settled in your mind as to how God wants you to think and live. Romans 14:5 But at the same time, be open to growth and change. We change as we grow. I’ve been saved seventy years now and throughout those years, even to this day, I am constantly changing and growing in grace and in the liberty which we have in Christ. See II Corinthians 3:18 on this truth.
Give God thanks for everything. Romans 14:6
Live for others. We’re members of churches for others; not just for ourselves. Romans 14:7
Live for God’s glory. Romans 14:8
Remember this as you seek a church home. A healthy growing church will always have weak saints who are in the process of growing stronger and maturing as saints. Get involved in such a church, but avoid churches that are ingrown and have no interest nor desire to reach out to others.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.