Sunday: Weak in Faith

In Romans 14:1-3, the question concerns the eating of meats that may have been sacrificed to idols. The Jerusalem council (Acts  chapter 15)ruled that Gentile converts should refrain from eating such foods. But there was always the question as to whether meats sold in public markets had come from animals sacrificed to idols (see 1 Cor. 10:25).

Weak in Faith

Image © Kevin Carden

Some Christians didn’t care about that at all; others, if there were the slightest doubt, chose to eat vegetables instead. The issue had nothing to do with the question of vegetarianism and healthful living. Nor is Paul implying in this passage that the distinction between clean and unclean meats has been abolished. This is not the subject under consideration. If the words “he may eat all things” (Rom. 14:2) were taken to mean that now any animal, clean or otherwise, could be eaten, they would be misapplied. Comparison with other New Testament passages would rule against such an application.

Meanwhile, to “receive” one weak in the faith meant to accord him or her full membership and social status. The person was not to be argued with but given the right to his or her opinion.

What principle should we take, then, from Romans 14:1-3?

It’s important, too, to realize that in Romans 14:3 Paul does not speak negatively of the one “weak in the faith” in Romans 14:1. Nor does he give this person advice as to how to become strong. So far as God is concerned, the overscrupulous Christian (judged overscrupulous, apparently, not by God but by his or her fellow Christians) is accepted. “God hath received him.”

How does Romans 14:4 amplify what we’ve just looked at?

Although we need to keep in mind the principles seen in today’s lesson, are there not times and places where we need to step in and judge, if not a person’s heart, at least his or her actions? Are we to step back and say and do nothing in every situation? Isaiah 56:10 describes watchmen as “dumb dogs, they cannot bark.” How can we know when to speak and when to keep silent? How do we strike the right balance here?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons