Daily Devotion: Peace with the Weak in Faith

Romans 14:1, As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

Christians judging one another. This is the problem Paul was addressing. One Christian, in his Christian freedom, will eat any kind of food whilst another eats only vegetables because, weak in faith, she believes abstaining from meat to be holy and eating meat to be evil or unethical. The carnivorous Christian might prove with sound theology to this weaker Christian that eating meat—even unclean meat—is permitted under the Gospel. He might even scold her.

Paul, however, prohibits this; he tells the Roman Christians not to quarrel with such weaker Christians, but to welcome them. “Who are you to pass judgement on the servant of another,” he asks rhetorically. “It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (v. 4). Do not argue with your brother or sister in Christ, he says in essence, but welcome them and love them—be hospitable and empathetic.

When we perceive someone as having the wrong view on something, we do exactly what Paul discourages: we bicker and argue, and we judge with fire and brimstone catapulting from our mouths. Even if they are wrong, Paul prohibits hostility and quarreling. We omnivorous folk slander ethical vegans, and they return insult for insult; Democrats and Republicans quarrel perpetually with zero conflict resolution; high church Lutherans belittle the faith of low church Lutherans. Each worships contention over peace—enmity over grace.

Nothing is unclean, Paul says (v. 14), whether food, drink, political party, liturgical practice, or what-have-you; but whatever one considers unclean is unclean for them; and it is the stronger Christian’s responsibility not to cause their weaker brother or sister to stumble against their conscience (v. 20).

Thus, do not force the ethical vegan to eat meat, even though meat is surely permitted; neither force a person to vote Democrat or Republican; or low church folk to attend high church. This, of course, does not apply to things obviously antithetical to God’s Word, such as abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, deceit, adultery, etc. Still, these sins must be dealt with lovingly with grace and mercy.

Why does Paul prohibit such quarreling and judging? “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding” (vv. 17-19).

Insofar as God’s kingdom—salvation—is concerned, your diet, political affiliation, worship preference, and such are irrelevant. None of these characteristics—or any others—qualify you for salvation. If you are vegan and believe in Christ, God accepts you because of Christ. If you are Democrat or Republican, God accepts you because of Christ. Whether you prefer high church or low church, God accepts you because of Christ. Let us, therefore, build up one another in Christ in spite of our differences that are irrelevant to our salvation in Christ.

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