Romans 14:1-4 ESV
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 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. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:20-23 ESV
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Paul is telling the people not to make a big deal over opinions or in what someone's faith is based on. In fact they are told that rather than judging, they should abstain from the things others aren't free of while they are with them so those who are weak may not stumble.
So today what are the things we quarrel over and judge others for from our opinions rather than from what's in Scripture? The list could go on and on. Growing up in a conservative holiness church, I have found myself having to relearn the difference and to be very careful not to be judgmental over what others do or think. Growing up believing I couldn't dance, listen to rock-n-roll, play cards, and the really big one, drink. If I got caught drinking or of doing any of the other terrible deeds, my acceptance by others as being a Christian would really be called into question. I would be expected to go to the altar and beg for forgiveness, again, in order to be accepted by others as being a true Christian.
How we dressed was another big one. A very good friend told me a story that happened years ago in a youth group he was involved with. A young teen girl who was living a very rough, tough, sinful life had come to receive Jesus into her life. She was so on fire and excited about her new life and the new friends she now had who really loved her, unlike the old friends she thought loved her but really didn't. One Sunday she decided to go to a church service to be with her new friends and after the service a lady who had been a long standing member of the church came up to her and told her she needed to wear different clothes if she was going to be part of this church. What she had on was very inappropriate and until she wore something else she was not welcome to be there since what she wore may be a bad influence for the men in the church. The young girl was devastated and embarrassed and left feeling like she was not really loved after all. She decided to go to a party that night with her former boyfriend and while at the party, her boyfriend, while playing with a gun, accidentally shot himself leading everyone to believe he was dead. The young girl decided since the only friend she had was gone she too would leave so she picked up the gun and ended her life. This all very likely was a result of being judged by someone's opinion rather than by what was in the Bible. We need to be so careful of what we judge others for. In scripture it tells us as Christians to lovingly admonish one another. In doing that we need to first be loving and second make sure it's in scripture as something we are not to do rather than just being a religious opinion. Whenever I am with someone and I disagree with what they believe in or what they are doing I want to get in the habit of asking myself first is this in scripture or is this my own opinion. If it's opinion I need to learn to just love them and not allow my disagreement to be something that may lead someone to stumble. We are all subject to God rather than to each other. He will someday judge us all for everything we have done and as Christians what we are judged for is not up to anyone else but between us and God.
by Ken Edgerly