Romans 14:12 – 15:7
Having Jews and Gentiles in the same congregation gave rise to unusual problems. Members of the two groups were in dispute over holidays and, of all things, food. The Jews insisted on keeping all the traditional feast days and celebrations they had grown up with. They also had dietary laws that forbade eating certain foods. Many of the Gentiles ate meats that had been offered to pagan idols – a habit the Jews loathed. Paul declared that the law of Christ was freedom! God had given the word through Peter that those formerly unclean foods were now available to be eaten by believers (Acts 10:15). The Holy Spirit now resides within every Christian convicting him to know what is right and wrong.
Some of the membership at the Church at Rome had not matured as quickly as others. Situations and events that the strong found easy to resolve were not so easy to understand by the weaker members. Paul warned all believers that this new freedom did not relieve us of responsibility for one another’s convictions. If a weaker brother or sister is convinced that a food or activity is to be avoided then we are not to contend with them about it. Paul’s message is directed toward those stronger in the faith.
I. How Do We Judge Strength?
A. In terms of knowledge and wisdom
1. These two do not necessarily occur together
2. It is better to have both wisdom and knowledge (Word and experience)
B. Additional criteria are hope, joy, patience, and self-sacrifice
1. It is more natural to think highly of ourselves and our ideas than to consider the views of others (Bro. Jones)
2. Patience is a virtue few really employ or desire
C. Strength is best when exercised quietly
1. Dad used to tell the story of Halon Brooks and J. C. Lawler. After the church building burned in the mid 1940’s, the men worked together to rebuild. They dug a basement and carried bags of mortar to lay the block walls. Halon and JC were competing to see who could carry the most 90 lb. bags. After much hoopla they discovered that Charles Kellough had carried more than the two of them together.
2. We must guard against arrogance
II. An Attitude That Pleases God
A. One that tries to understand the weakness of others
1. Some are weak by nature of their background
2. Some have been ill used or badly taught
3. Still others may have been injured by experience
B. One that seeks to heal and instruct
1. With patience taking them by the hand
2. Through holy example
A great church is one with a foundation of love and unity. The work we are called to do requires that we love, respect, and trust one another. Thomas Brooks said that the strong saint and the weak saint should be as two harp strings. When one is plucked the other trembles!