Our Faith… Weak or Strong?
All of us are all weak in some areas and strong in others. If we can interact with sinful people without falling into their patterns, we are strong in that area of our faith. However, if we must avoid certain activities, people, or places in order to protect our spiritual life we may be weak in that area of our faith.
It is important to reflect on one’s self, in order to find our strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself, “Can I do that without sinning? Can I influence others for good, rather than being influenced by them?” In areas of strength where the answer is YES, we should not fear being defiled by the world; but rather, we should go and serve God there. However, in areas of weakness, we need to be cautious.
We can’t expect everyone to agree on every subject. Differences should not be feared or avoided but accepted and handled with love. Through sharing ideas, we can come to a deeper understanding of what the Bible teaches. Differences of opinion need not cause division. They can be a source of learning and richness in our relationships. Accept, listen to, and respect others.
In Romans 14, Paul is writing about immature faith (weak faith) that has not yet developed the muscle strength it needs to stand against outside influences. For example, if someone once worshiped idols and then became a Christian, they might understand perfectly well that Christ saved them through faith and that the idols they once worshiped have no real power. Still, because of this past association, they might be shaken if they ate meat used in idol worship. Likewise, if a non-Christian once worshiped God on specific holy days were to become a Christian, they might well know that Christ saved him through faith, not through keeping of the law; however, may still feel empty and unfaithful by not dedicating those days to God.
Both are acting according to their consciences, but their honest principles do not need to be made into rules for the church. Unquestionably, some issues are central to the faith and worth fighting for, but many are based on individual differences and should not be constituted. Our principle should be everything with love.
Some Christians use a weaker brother to support their own opinions, prejudices, or standards, saying “You must live by these standards,” or “you will be offending the weaker brother.” The truth is, this person would only be offending the one trying to support their own opinion. Be sensitive to those whose faith may be harmed by our actions, we should not sacrifice our faith in Christ just to satisfy the selfish motives of those who are trying to force their opinions on us. We should follow Christ as closely as we can and neither fear or criticize them.
So as believers, we try to steer clear of actions forbidden by Scripture, of course, but sometimes Scripture is silent. At those times, we should follow our consciences. When God shows us that something is wrong for us, we should avoid it. But we should not look down on other Christians who exercise their freedom in those areas.
Believers are called to accept one another without judging other varied opinions. However, sometimes these situations have to be faced and we have to deal with those who disagree with us. We as believers should act in love so as to maintain peace. Everything we do affects others, and we must think of them constantly. God created us to be dependent on each other. Those of us that are strong in our faith must, without pride or haughtiness, treat others with love, patience, and self-restraint.