Are you a Professional Weaker Brother or Sister? (Are thinking, huh?) I didn’t make up the title, but I’ve talked about it before, and I think it bears repeating in this series on Titus 3:9-15. If you are jumping into the middle of the series, I encourage you to go back and start with part 1 and then read part 2 before continuing here.
In this series we’ve been talking about how Christians can get along in a church family, even when they disagree. Sadly, Christians through the ages have developed a very divisive approach to various situations, and that approach has been described as The Professional Weaker Brother or Sister.
The first problem is that Professional Weaker Brothers or Sisters do not believe they are weak, they believe they are right. They believe they have the one and only correct view of the issue, and everyone else should view things their way. They can make it seem like they are very spiritual and very committed to God, and in fact more committed to God than people who disagree with them. They can promote abstinence in all kinds of situations, and condemn Christians who feel free to partake.
In the situation Paul refers to in Romans 14-15 and 1st Corinthians 8 and 10, the Professional Weaker Brother or Sister would say, “eating meat sacrificed to idols is sin, and you should never do so.” Another variation of the Professional Weaker Brother and Sister is “because you don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone, you should always just abstain. Period. It is wrong to eat meat. Christians don’t eat meat.” And then they try to convince others of their view, and judge those who disagree.
Do you see what the Professional Weaker Brother or Sister has done? They have totally scrapped what Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 10 that eating the meat sacrificed to idols was okay. And they have made a new law where Paul never made a law. Their new law is “eating meat sacrificed to idols is a sin, and Christians should never do it.” What is it called when you make a law and try to bind other people to it? Legalism. That is the very thing Jesus so strongly confronted the Pharisees about. They had made tons of extra laws and were forcing the people to follow their laws, and God’s law essentially got lost in the process.
That’s very similar to what was happening in the church in Crete, as Paul mentioned in Titus 1:10-16. So-called Christians were telling the church that they needed to practice circumcision in order to be good Christians. Paul says, no way.
We Christians, then, should not be Professional Weaker Brothers and Sisters. In fact, we should be like Jesus, and we should lovingly confront the Professional Weaker Brothers and Sisters, encouraging them to grow in their faith. There is a reason, I believe that Paul uses the word “weak” for the person is that is less free, and that he uses the word “strong” for the person who is freer. I don’t believe Paul is saying “weak” means “bad” or “wrong.” Please don’t read me saying that Paul is teaching that those who are strong in faith are better or good. All are equally loved and valued in God’s eyes. But I do believe that there is an undertone in Paul’s teaching that those who are weaker should desire to move toward a position of strength.
The main idea is that those who are weak are not be to judgmental and self-righteous against those who are strong and free. Likewise those who are strong in faith are to be self-controlled and humble about the use of their freedom, willing and quick to practice abstinence in a heartbeat, so as not to hurt those who are weak. This is vital in a church family. In our Faith Church family, we have plenty of areas where we disagree with one another. That’s normal. That’s families for you. And in Faith Church we have those more on the weaker cautious side of faith, and we have those on the stronger freer side of faith. I bet your church family is just like ours. Let us love one another with graciousness, even when we disagree.