By Not Known
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters.
(Rom 14:1) Paul is not talking about matters where Scripture has clearly stated its
position. He is referring to ‘opinions’ (ESV/NASV) or ‘doubtful points’ (NEB) where
Christians need not necessarily agree.
While differences in perspective and preference may be conditioned by one’s personality
and background, disagreements and conflicts often surface in those differences because of a deterministic pride, i.e. my view is the one and is superior to your view. When such a view is forcefully presented like gospel truth, it invariably throws a bad light on its opponents.
In Matthew 7:1-6, Jesus warns against lording oneself over others and passing judgement without
subjecting himself to that same measure. God alone is the Lord and Judge over all. However, he does not call us to suspend critical discernment over sin and error. In Romans 14, the apostle Paul deals with a rather unfortunate situation where opposing parties over the issue of food regulations are throwing doubts on one another’s status before God. He admonishes their lack of Christian love in tearing down one another’s relationship with God and within the church. In
their wanting to be ‘more right’ with God in disputable matters, they have become Satan’s
instruments to destroy one another’s faith and the church.
This is not an unfamiliar situation in our local churches today. The disputable matters
are varied, but the underlying attitude is similar – judgemental pride. How do we
guard ourselves from a destructive pride so that we may grow towards godliness, and
protect our brethren’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul has given the following
instructions in Romans 14:
- Approach differences with an ‘accepting’ or ‘welcoming’ (ESV) attitude (v1)
- Do not ‘look down’ or ‘condemn’ one another (v3)
- Remember that God above is the Judge and everyone is accountable for the
judgement he passes on another (w4,12)
- Accept that there are matters that Scripture does not clearly pronounce a
position of a gospel or creedal significance (w5-7)
- Do not simply cast doubts on another’s faith in God because of disagreement (v8)
- Be careful that you do not become a stumbling block to another’s growth towards God (v13)
- Be careful that you do not destroy another’s faith in Jesus Christ by your unloving
attitude and behaviour (v15). Rather, seek peace and edification (v19)
- Recognise what really matters to God – righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (v17)
Which of the above do you need to work at? Perhaps a practical test is to think of going up to one you have had a disagreement, and reconcile along these pointers.