dealing with “weaker brothers”

first off: i like the ESV.

bad NIV translation has spawned the phrase “weaker brother”, which implies that the person must be somehow “under” you, by the -er suffix.

the phrase, though, is simply “one who is weak in faith” — regardless of how they’re faith “stacks up” to yours.

anyway, on with the scripture:

Romans 14:1-3

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

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.

if someone, weak in the faith or not, is hounding you on an issue that the bible is vague (or silent) on: they are not living a life of love.

perhaps this person is weak in faith, but the instructions from paul are to be a two-way street: it is clear that we are simply to avoid judging one another on matters of opinion.

it is possible that they are otherwise quite strong in their faith, but simply have a hang-up in this one area… ?

either way, i think romans is fairly clear that you are to, as a matter of love, avoid “flaunting” your freedom.

this does not mean, in my opinion, that you are to avoid the activity in question altogether, but simply to do what seems best to avoid inflaming the issue with this person.

always in love, though, it is also clear that you are to “not allow what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”

this may be where that terrible phrase, “agree to disagree” actually applies.

if it truly is a matter of opinion, then it is likely not a crucial matter, and you can likely serve the lord by dropping it humbly if the person is tryingto pick a fight.

if, however, they really are in need of restoration, keep this in mind:

Galations 6:1-3

Bear One Another’s Burdens

1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

i believe this warning to be sure you are not tempted to sin is aimed at thinking you are “better” than them, and will give them a “piece of your mind”, or whatnaught.

notice, too that the idea is to restore — NOT to correct, or punish, or condemn or judge.

restore, and gently.

if there’s any chance you will be unlikely to restore this person in total gentleness and love, it’s probably best left to a matter of prayer — let god sort them out. (he’s better at it anyway)

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