Sermonette for Saturday

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. Romans 14:1

The host has prepared a great feast in honour of a very special guest. The beautifully decorated table is heavily laden with the best of foods, and the scent is causing the mouths all of those present to water. Suddenly, a chef appears, carrying a huge platter on which rests a freshly baked suckling pig, with an apple in its mouth. All gush at the delectable sight, and the host calls the meal to order and bows toward the special guest, asking him to give thanks for the food. The special guest steps forward, looks about the gathered company, looks at the magnificent spread on the table, smiles, and pauses for a long moment. This is not easy for him. This is the apostle Paul, raised in the strictest of Jewish families, trained under the best of rabinical scholars, aspirant at one time to the highest place in Jewish theological order, and now is faced with the task of, for the first time in his life, asking God to bless a meal that the same God had once cursed. What thoughts are going through the apostle’s mind as he looks upon his plate, with its generous portion from that suckling pig? That first bite, delicious as it surely is, sticks a bit in his throat. But he swallows it, and a weak spot in his faith gets a little stronger.

When Paul speaks about receiving people who are weak in the faith, he is not referring to people whose faith is weak. In fact, the people he refers to are probably people whose faith is robust. They have trusted Christ and are joyful in their salvation. They are learning to trust their Lord in many ways and appreciate His faithfulness to them. No, he is referring to people who have failed to see past the legalities and ordinances of religion, and are trying to include them in their brand of Christianity. Paul had a constant battle throughout his ministry with Judaistic teachers who insisted on following the dictates of the law. Even as he moved into primarily Gentile circles, he encountered believers who were concerned about eating meat that was offered to idols. A weak spot in their faith prevented them from accepting Paul’s argument that meat was meat regardless of where and how it was slaughtered. In our text, Paul is telling us to accept such Christians, as long as we can do so without getting into arguments about their hangups.

Sometimes we need to accommodate people with such weaknesses for awhile, as long as it does not unduly inconvenience others. A lot of love and a little bit of good teaching can bring these folks into a sound knowledge of the liberty into which our salvation brings us. A kindly spirit and a gentle attitude will accomplish much. But we need to be careful that we do not bring people into our fellowship whose dogmatic positions will lead to perpetual strife. That is just asking for trouble.

Our Lord would have His people fellowship in unity, even those who need a little boost in some aspects of their faith. – Jim MacIntosh

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