In Christ’s church in Rome, as well as in other places, there were disputes about how His people were to interact with food. In the Old Covenant system, some foods were considered “clean” and others “unclean”, as a picture of Israel’s holiness among the nations. After Jesus suffered on the cross for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, the picture of their inclusion is in that now all food is “clean”. The Savior showed Peter a vision, telling him to rise, kill, and eat, revealing to Him that Jew and Gentile believers are equal in his sight.
So, many of the Christians at Rome struggled with the food laws, not properly understanding (yet), how they were fulfilled on the cross of Christ. This is why Paul referred to them as
weak in faith -Romans 14:1
Remember that it is God who gives a measure of faith to each Christian, for His own purposes. One of those reasons is that it allows Christ’s people to practice forbearance. Those who did have a proper understanding of Jesus’s fulfillment of the food laws were not given license to then be arrogant or impatient. For what did they have that the Holy Spirit did not give to them?
No, those who were strong in the faith were to welcome those who were weak in the faith. And it was
not to quarrel over opinions -Romans 14:1
And these were indeed opinions. This is not to say that Christ’s law is relative, but if it would violate the weaker brother’s conscience to partake in a certain food, then it was right for him to worship the Lord in withholding. Now, as the Spirit sanctified him, he might’ve changed his disposition. But in the meantime, it wasn’t sin for them to not eat the food sacrificed to idols, and it wasn’t sin for the stronger brother to eat away, as long as he wasn’t causing his weaker brother to stumble.
It pleases the Lord when His people are united in Him, not squabbling about minor issues. Instead, those who are strong should humbly forbear with those who are weak. They should not be quarrelsome, but helpful.
Consider how Christ is with us in that, while likely none of us has perfect doctrine, He doesn’t throw up His arms in the air in frustration nor call us names. Instead, He gently forbears with us and leads us into greater knowledge and holiness. Such should we be with our brothers and sisters.
Now, there are matters in which we must be more firm. Not everything is as minor as food laws. If there is heresy in Christ’s church, it must be, with tears in our eyes, rooted out and expelled. But for minor issues, have patience with one another. Do not quarrel, but welcome. Labor with each other in all forbearance, as Christ labors with us.