There are two brothers mentioned in Romans 14—and they are referred to with terms of strength. One is called the stronger brother, and the other the weaker.
The Stronger Brother
The Stronger Brother takes on two different types of individuals.
The first individual is the one that stands firm on his understanding of the Bible and feels free to partake in those things that were previously forbidden—and does so to the glory of God. This is the man (or woman) that could eat the meat offered to idols, because there were no such things as idols and the meat was 50% the price he could get at the local WalMart. His conscience did not bother him about it, and he had a right relationship to the Lord.
The second individual is one that believed that he could eat the meat offered to idols, but he used to go to that temple before he came to Christ, and if he went to the marketplace he might be tempted to return to that lifestyle. This person chooses not to do something he knows he lawfully can do, but does so because it’s best for his walk—and in that also gives God the glory.
The Stronger Brother has to make sure that his liberty does not pose an opportunity to stumble for the weaker brother. He also has to be careful not to let his “good be evil spoken of”—meaning that his liberty should not cause problems for other believers.
We’ll cover the whole concept of being a stumbling block in the next post, but the second admonition is something I’ve seen happening on the Internet a lot. There are many people that have left one church or another for different reasons, and have started labeling the church they left as wrong—for many different reasons.
If it’s not a doctrinal issue, then those that consider themselves strong should not be disparaging those that are weaker. As long as believers are trying to give God thanks through their actions, we should refrain from judgment.
The Weaker Brother
The Weaker Brother is pretty straightforward. For him, he understands the Bible to be dogmatic on things of questionable nature. He believes that he should still respect the holy days, and he won’t go anywhere near the temple.
The Weaker Brother needs to be careful not to judge the Stronger Brother. It’s tempting for both to want to apply what they believe to someone else, and when that person does not measure up, to use that person or that person’s beliefs as a rallying point for “the one true religion.”
The fact is, Paul is stating that the only things that are definitely agreed upon in the Christian life are the doctrine taught directly and the Bible, and that we will have differences in what we believe. Some will believe that they should not have Christian Contemporary Music in their services, and others will believe that they can. Instead of judging each other, we should seek out those services where we can give God thanks.