I continue to read through the book of Romans and today I am in chapter 14. In this chapter Paul (through the inspiration of the Holy spirit) addresses how believers should relate to one another especially in cases where one is weak or a newly converted believer and the other is a stronger believer.
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
First I want to try and define each of these believers. What do I (or Paul) mean by a weaker believer? It almost goes without saying that anyone who is a new convert to faith in Christ would be a weaker believer. This would also pertain to anyone who might bring extra baggage from another religion such as the abstinence of eating meat and only eating vegetables. In the New Testament Christ does not hold up one type of food over over another. As a matter of fact in Acts 10 Peter is told by the Lord that we are not to honor one food over another such as was called clean and unclean but to honor the Lord for He has made it clean. So if someone remains in the conviction that they should not eat “unclean” food then I would contend they are weaker in the faith. Paul tells the believers in Rome that if one is of the opinion that some food is unclean and another eats the same food, the one who eats should not despise the one who does not. The stronger believer would be the one who is able to eat and drink without falling into guilt from an issue of conscience.
In order to love one another as Christ commanded we must not condemn one another on these matters of opinion. They are not sin. If we notice a brother or sister refraining from drinking wine because of personal conviction we should not push them to consume because God has not forbidden us to drink it. We may want to show them in scripture where wine is a blessing from God and thus can be consumed by believers. The same would hold that if a weaker believer saw another believer consuming wine they should not despise them. Because abstaining from wine is based on their own personal convictions.
For my two cents…..I remember this very thing being a topic of some debate when my wife and I first began attending Omaha Bible Church. There were some who regarded the abstinence of wine as a higher calling. Since there exists such an evangelical stigma with alcohol consumption some folks have made the consumption of it a sin, and binding what the Lord has not bound. I think we should be very careful not to despise those who have made this a “personal conviction”. Definitely steer them away from regarding it as a sin. And those who do abstain should be very careful not to despise those who do not have this “personal conviction”. Jesus gave us the command to love one another so that the world will know that we are His disciples. The weaker should love the stronger and vise versa.