The Law of Liberty
1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:
” As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God. (Isaiah 45:23)”
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
To receive, in this meaning, speaks of taking in someone who is in need. Who are we taking in? Those who are “weak in the faith” – not that their faith in God is weak because the but they are tied to their old religious ways – still unsure of how to walk in this new Christian life. When someone is newly saved, there are two usual responses. Praising God immediately or looking back over your life to see why God has done this for you. They are looking for works to pay God back for His gift of salvation. They are looking for laws to keep them bound into the love of God – looking at their imputed righteousness using the same eyes they were born with and using their flawed minds to try to grasp a God who has given them so much when they know that they were no more deserving than any other person on this planet. These are “baby Christians” and it’s out job as more mature Christians to shepherd these new converts and help them along their path. Converted Catholics have trouble understanding why we don’t baptize infants and why we focus so much on personal time spent reading the Bible. This text speaks of the same things here – most of the original converts to Christianity were Jews and their religious laws held them in bondage for so many years that now they are free of them and yet it’s still hard for them to understand what it means. The Mosaic laws regarding dietary restrictions and Sabbath observances controlled many of them and it was common for the Jews to look down on those who acted outside of those laws. Now they are free of those restrictions and yet their prejudices still hold them tightly. What we are asked to do here is to let God work on their prejudices and allow room for God to do the work in their lives. God is the one who does the work – not us. We are not to force them to do things that they are uncomfortable with, such as offering a former Jewish convert bacon or ham if they’re not ready for that yet. There are still others who hold certain days in certain prevalence over others and we need to respect that. God will work on them in His time and it may be that He is doing a specific work in them so that they can be used for His purposes in a way that we are not equipped. As mature Christians, we know that all things are available for us to eat responsibly and that we celebrate Christ’s birth, ministry, and death every day. There are no specific days or ceremonies necessary for celebrating the communion nor for a believers’ baptism, but we should do it all to the glory of God. Our lives are testimonies to a Godless and unrepentant world about the freedom that’s available in Christ. We are not to judge one another but to be able to discern when someone is an unbeliever and living in unrepentant sin. Ultimately, whether unbeliever or not, they will all stand before God in the final day of judgment and all will turn to Jesus and confess what they have done. We will all give an account of ourselves to God so we should make it a point to keep from making our walk with God any harder than it needs to be. Bring the new believers in and help them – show them what God has done in and through you and if you are influencing someone who has a history of a specific sin, be sure that you do not place them in a place where they are likely to fall back into that same sin. We are to bear each others’ burdens and to help one another in all things as Christ took on flesh to live the lives that we live.