“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” (Romans 14:1, ESV)
In 1983, the Lord gloriously saved me while reading a Gideon Bible in a Minneapolis hotel room while on business. This launched the most glorious adventure of my life. I remember those early days well. I had this loving relationship with the Lord. I had a hunger and thirst to know Him even more and to serve Him. I remember the euphoria of that time.
However, it was not long before I ran into a brick wall of opinions. No dancing, no movies, no wine, no jewelry, do nothing on Sunday, and etcetera. You would have thought that “Thou shall not have an ashtray in thine house,” had to be somewhere in the Bible. This quibbling over opinions threw a wrench into my joyful Christian experience. I had to sort this thing out.
Paul gives us some solid advice regarding the issue of quibbling over opinions. He tells us to welcome the one who is weak in the faith and not to get into a quarrel with him over opinions. So, who is the one weak in the faith? Paul gives this example. The weak person is the one who has an opinion that one must follow a restricted vegetarian diet and the strong person is the one who is free to eat everything (v2). The opinions that Paul speaks of are over things to which there are no direct scriptural prohibitions.
It is probable that Paul was speaking of a real issue where some Christians avoided meat to ensure they would never eat meat sacrificed to idols. However, let us not quibble over this issue and who is weak and who is strong. Rather let us learn the big principle that Paul brings forth. The big point is this. Do not quarrel over these types of differences of opinions between brothers and sisters in Christ.
First, Paul tells the brother who has freedom not to despise the one who has restrictions. Friends, do not criticize, coerce one to transgress his own convictions, and do not ridicule him. Conversely, the one with restrictions is not to pass judgment on the other. So, respond to these differences of opinions by not despising or judging one another. On the contrary receive the one with a difference of opinion as a brother in Christ.
Why should we receive the one with an opposing opinion graciously? Paul goes on to say that God has welcomed him (v3). God has extended grace both to the one weak in the faith and to the one who is strong alike.
As I look back to all the quibbling that temporally derailed the joy of my Christian journey, I have come to this conclusion. Those that quarrel over such things are transgressing the teaching of Scripture. Thus, this quarrelling is sin. Moreover, this quarreling does not emulate the grace that God has granted to each of us who have believed. It also creates contention and division in the body of Christ. And finally, it will steal one’s joy in the Christian experience.