Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Accept the person whom God has accepted. To his own master he stands or falls, so who am I to judge the servant of another?
These verses are used by many people to teach that Christians are not to judge others. It is commonly said that we have freedom now because we are forgiven, and we are commanded here to not pass judgement on the one whom God has accepted. But think about what this dispute is about. The weak believer is more sensitive than the strong believer to offend God. The weak believer will not even eat meat that was offered as a sacrifice to another god because he does not want to defile himself and offend the God of heaven. The strong believer knows that there are no other gods, and that the meat is not defiled at all. The strong believer knows that he has freedom to eat this meat because it is just meat. The weak believer thinks it may be demon possessed or something.
This text is teaching that we are not to judge the opinions of another believer with regards to minor (non-sin) issues. These verses do not conflict with the teaching in 1 Corinthians 5 which teach that we are to judge those inside the church. We are to judge whether they are living in unrepentant sin or not. If they are professing to be believers and will not give up their sin, we are not even to eat a meal with them. We are rather to bring church discipline against them and cast them out of our fellowship. We do not want a professing believer living in sin and causing a scar on the name of Jesus among outsiders.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so- called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler —not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
So there are two groups of people that Christians are not to judge; unbelievers, and new believers who are super sensitive to not offend God in any way at all. It is not the believer who is living in sin and is not really worried at all over offending God; it is the sensitive believer. God has accepted the believer who is weak in faith. God has not accepted the professing believer who will not give up their sin.
1 Thessalonians 1:21 tells us that we are to examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. This is a call to make distinctions, or to put it in another way; to judge. We are to discern everything. We must or we will be tossed around by every wind of doctrine. Discernment and judgement are different things. The former guides in decisions, the latter pronounces an innocent or guilty verdict. Even in deciding whether a person is in the group of believer, non-believer, or weak believer, is a call to distinctions.
I pray that we become a family that is wise and discerning, O Lord make it so!