Rom 14:1-3 “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.”
It becomes quickly evident as we begin to follow Christ that we do not all have the same measure of faith. We are often tempted to try and “correct” what we may perceive as a deficiency in a brother or sister. While I intentions may be good, this can come across as holding them on the fringes of our fellowship. This is not the way that Paul taught.
We are not instructed to strengthen the faith of those that might be weaker in their understanding of the power of Christ to save. If their faith is in Christ, then we need to receive them and love them as fellow servants. Certainly, we should speak freely about our faith and our understanding, but we should do so with love. Our faith should never be used to marginalize God’s children who do not see as we do.
We should never bring them into a situation of doubtful disputations. We should always express the truth in love. Scripture, used in context, should always be our proof. The truth should never be presented as though we received it from some other man (pastor, teacher, reformist).
As we receive the weaker in faith, we need to remember that the word receive here means to admit into our friendship and hospitality. They should never have cause to doubt our love for Jesus or our love for them. Using the mind of Christ that we have been given, we should always seek to be servants unto His children (Eph 2:4-8). At the very least, our walk should never leave them in doubt about our love for them or the sincerity of our faith in Christ.
Whether Paul was referring to brothers who still believed that certain foods were unclean (as under the law) or to meat offered to idols is not immediately clear here. It is clear that the faith of some was such that they did not fear partaking of meat that others were not willing to consume. The lesson was not so much about what they ate as it was about their attitude towards one another. This is critical to our life as disciples.
We are never told to abandon our faith for the sake of a weaker brother. However, we are told not to deliberately offend that weaker brother. It is not godly for us to despise (treat as being worthless) a brother of weaker faith. Instead, we should seek to live out our faith in love and compassion, knowing that to others we may be the weaker brother.
As such, we should also make it a point not to judge another brother in the things that he eats. This is not to say that we should not recognize and avoid sinful behavior. For example, if my brother’s faith is such that he feels the need to stop whatever he is doing and pray every hour, it is not my place to view this as excessive behavior or “just making a show.” Only God knows what is in our hearts, and only in Him can we become stronger in our faith.
May our yea be yea and our nay be nay when expressing our faith, and may we never mistreat a brother whom God hath received!