Fully Convinced in Your Own Mind
There are matters in Christian theology that are nonnegotiable: doctrines such as the Trinity, the Incarnation of Christ, substitutionary atonement, virgin birth, resurrection of the body, the inspiration of Scripture, among others. There are nonnegotiables concerning moral behavior spelled out in the Ten Commandments and various parts of the New Testament (e.g., Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). But then there are other matters that are left to our own prudential judgment; for instance, what kind of school to send our children (e.g., public, Christian, homeschool), how many children to have, whether or not to adopt, what career to pursue, and a host of others. Theologians call these matters of prudential judgment by the Greek word, adiaphora, which translates in English as “indifference”; hence, these are “matters of indifference.” That does not mean that they are unimportant; this simply means that Scripture does not give us explicit instructions. Thus, you may choose according to your own conscience what you think is best through prayer and discernment.
This well describes what we have here. From the best we can tell, the Gentile Christians have no problem with matters of what to eat, special days to observe, or drinking wine. These feel that Christ has freed them from such scruples and see no harm in partaking in those matters as long as they do not lead to sin. Paul calls these the “strong.” The Jewish Christians still cling to the Mosaic code concerning these matters and are fastidious in their observance of them. It would bother their conscience to partake of meat if they could not be sure that it was prepared in a kosher manner. Paul calls these the “weak.” It seems that if Paul sides with either, it would be the “strong,” but that does not matter. Paul’s concern is that each group is looking down on the other; the Gentiles believe their Jewish brethren hung up on Jewish particulars, the Jews think their Gentile brethren haphazard in their religious observance. Paul wants peace.
So Paul’s answer to the problem is that neither group has a right to judge the other, for in doing so, each usurps God’s place. In other words, as each believer is God’s slave, no one else is that slave’s master—so leave him alone—God will judge him. And though you disagree with him, God receives him and can make him stand. The important point for the believer is to be “fully convinced in his own mind,” which is sometimes difficult. But rejoice that in such matters, you are free to pursue what you think is best, and forbidden to judge your brother who may pursue a different course.