The Considerate Nature of Love.

Paul talks about two categories of Christians in Romans 14, the strong and the weak. Every believer falls under one category or the other. Both are assumed to be reverent and growing. Both are instructed to keep themselves in the love of God.

Potential Pitfalls for Considerate People

How do different people get along in the local church?

Romans 14:2 and 5 tell where the two groups differ: in what food they eat and whether they observe special days. Neither group is wrong, but either can become imbalanced. Their strength can become weakness (Romans 13:14).

Those called "weak" needed to remember that keeping the Mosaic code did not bring them closer to God. As long as they remembered that, they were not wrong to keep these historically biblical observances. Other religious traditions may not have the same biblical basis.

Each group is to accept the other collectively and as individuals. The word "accept" carries the meaning of receiving a person into one's home or welcoming a new citizen. The weak and strong do not differ in faith, but in working out their life convictions. As one author said, "the weak are not lesser Christians. They simply think their faith does not allow them to do certain things."

The key for each is not to criticize others on non-essential matters. We don't accept one another in order to share our opinion with them. Our acceptance is based on our common position in Christ. Neither are we to champion our personal standards or liberty.

Romans 14:3 and 10 name the attitudes each group is to avoid toward the other. The strong are not to reject the weak or view them with disdain or contempt. The weak are not to judge the character or salvation of the strong based on their liberty. Both attitudes are the result of unbiblical thinking. Standards do not keep us in fellowship with God. Only God's grace in Christ can do that (Romans 14:4).

Principles for Considerate People

Alva J. McClain does a great job at highlighting what the strong and the weak have in common. They share the same aim (Romans 14:6). We live for the One who died for us. They both thank the same Lord (Romans 14:7-9). They both will receive the same judgement by their Lord (Romans 14:10-12). Paul assumes a good doctrinal foundation in both groups.

Focusing on the truths of similarity with fellow believers will help us avoid being divided over non-essentials.

Application Points

  • Standards do not keep us in fellowship with God. Only God's grace in Christ can do that! Are you relying on observing certain standards to make you right with God? Do you evaluate others' standing with God based on their behavior in non-essential areas?
  • Our mission statement is a great reminder to stay focused on the Lord and not tangential issues. "Grace Church of Mentor exists to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and equipping the saints with the goal of Christ-likeness." Keep your eyes on the Lord and living for Him!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 – Keep growing. The fruits of holy love are to mind your own business and display a strong vocational work ethic.
  • Romans 8:34 – It is for God to justify or condemn.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:18 – Stay thankful.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Open My Eyes, Spirit Divine"

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the Scriptures fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.