A DIVIDED HOUSE
Gracious Lord, you are all wisdom. Teach me the ways of holiness, compassion, and love. Teach me the way of Christ.
Read Romans 14:1–9
The Weak and the Strong
14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
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ReflectBring any conflicts that are unsettling you to the Lord. Ask for the strength to bring God’s peace into those conflicts.
Today’s passage begins a section concerned with the strong and the weak. The strong were probably Gentile Christians, along with Jewish Christians no longer observing the law. In contrast, the weak were probably Jewish Christians who, while they’d accepted Jesus as the Messiah, were struggling to abandon their religious upbringing. Now living among Gentiles, they can’t bring themselves to eat meat that’s not ‘kosher’ (vs 2,6), and Sabbaths, fasts and festivals were so deeply ingrained that they’re finding living among those not keeping them difficult (vs 5,6).
As long as they intend to honor the Lord, Paul refuses to condemn them, insisting simply that each ‘should be fully convinced in their own mind’ (v 5b). What Paul condemns unreservedly is the antipathy between the groups: the strong are treating the weak with contempt for their scruples, while the weak are judging the strong for disregarding what they hold dear (v 3). But, Paul insists, both groups are acceptable to God. If God deems both groups acceptable as servants (v 4), who are either the strong or the weak to disagree? Christ came to make all of them acceptable to God. However they choose to live over disputed questions, their living sacrifice must express the acceptance they’ve received from Christ.
Reflect on the politics within your church, family, or workplace. Ask God what your role can be in bringing greater acceptance.
Guide me Lord, to be your kind of person in times of disagreement. I seek a special portion of the Holy Spirit in such times of crisis.