fragile in the faith

January 2015 (15)

Romans 14:1-12

1 Accept the one who is fragile in the faith; do not criticize and argue. 2 You believe in eating anything, but the fragile believer eats only vegetables. 3 You who eat anything must not look down on the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not criticize the one who eats anything, because God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to criticize another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day does it for the Lord. The one who eats, eats for the Lord because he gives thanks to God, and the one who abstains from eating abstains for the Lord, and he gives thanks to God. 7 Because none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 This is the reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But you who eat vegetables only–why do you criticize your brother or sister? And you who eat anything–why do you look down on your brother or sister? Because we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 Scripture puts it this way, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.”[1] 12 So, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

fragile in the faith

Throughout this letter, Paul has been addressing two groups of Christians. One group is inclined toward libertarianism, knowing the grace of God for salvation, and insisting on staying free from any thing that might be construed as religious discipline. They consider themselves strong in faith. Another group is careful not to presume on anything. They are more likely to make rules for themselves to follow to keep themselves from falling back into the lives of sin they came from. They are inclined toward legalism. Paul calls these Christians fragile in the faith.

All this time, as they read through Paul’s letters, one group is cheering while another group boos. It seems as though the pendulum is swinging, and that Paul is just trying to strike a balance. But that is not the case. Paul is arguing for a tertium quid: a church that is big enough to accept both groups of believers without taking sides.

Paul cites two examples of the polarization and competition going on at the church in Rome. Some of the fragile-faithed are pushing sabbatarianism. Some of the strong-faithed are pushing for the freedom to eat meat that might have been raised by idolaters. Paul’s word to both groups: stop pushing. When you encounter a controversy that threatens to split your church, stop criticizing and arguing. Winning a fight is not worth losing a brother or sister.

LORD, make us sensitive to your love for Christians who see things different than we do.


[1] Isaiah 45:23.

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About Jefferson Vann

Jeff is a Christian missionary.
This entry was posted in church, consideration of others, cooperation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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