Don’t look on with contempt, and don’t judge. These are the takeaways from today’s passage. Importantly, though these commands are similar, they are directed at different people. It seems that in Rome, Christians had different views on personal piety. Some were disciplined concerning diets and the commemoration of holy days. Others ate freely and viewed all days alike. In Paul’s mind, the latter category of folks have things right. They understand their freedom in Christ and act accordingly. At the same time, Paul respects those with different sensibilities. The key, he says, is to accept one another in light of Christ.
So, how do the commands of avoiding contempt and not judging apply to these different groups? The folks who observe dietary restrictions and set aside certain days should be careful not to judge. Why? Because it can be easy to judge the spiritual walks of others that don’t “measure up” to our own. On the other hand, those who view all food and days alike should avoid contempt. Why? Because it can be easy to look down on those whose understanding of the faith is less developed than our own.
For Paul, so long as piety is pursued “for the Lord”, it stands. The question, then, is not how disciplined we can be or how well we understand the faith. Rather, the true question is whether our discipline and understanding are directed at Jesus. If so, Jesus accepts our gifts and forms our faith as he will. And, we can leave those decisions with him instead of taking it on ourselves to judge one another.
May God give us grace to trust Jesus with one another. And, may our piety be pointed at Christ, and Christ alone.