1. Practice acceptance. Paul tells begins and ends the section by telling them to accept each other with all of their “baggage” (14:1, 15:7). A little acceptance goes a long way. Moreover, if God has accepted us then there’s no reason why we can’t be accepting of each other (14:3-4).
2. Be flexible. The reason the Golden Gate Bridge or the Empire State Building stand to this day is because they are flexible—they give ever so slightly in a strong wind. If they were rigid and unbending they would have been destroyed years ago. The same thing is true for us in relationships—we need to be flexible, starting with the truth that someone doesn’t have to “get us” to be in relationship with us. The opposite of accepting and being flexible is judging so Paul says, “Therefore . . . stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister” (14:13). One of the reasons God places people in community as opposed to isolation is that we might encourage and nurture each other. When you become a stumbling block and an obstacle you are at cross-purposes with God and that’s not good.
3. Be a builder. Instead of being a stumbling block, we are to be a building block. Paul says “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (v. 19). It takes no talent to tear something down—anyone can do it. But to build something takes skill, patience and wisdom. The body of Christ is always in need of those who will build.
4. Maintain some private property. So what do we do with those convictions that we have? Paul says if the environment is inflammatory then we are to keep them “between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves” (v. 22). We condemn ourselves, even if our convictions are solid, if our behavior is not.
5. Be a bearer. You’ll notice in this section that Paul mentions “weak” three different times (14:1, 2, 15:1). Twice it’s about someone whose “faith is weak” and the other time he compresses it to the person being “weak.” In the context, he is saying that some convictions are more in line with truth than others. Those who hold them are “strong” (15:1), while those who hold a conviction that is something less are “weak” or “weak in faith” (he’s not making an statement about their overall spiritual maturity—just in regard to these disputed areas). Paul’s point in all of this isn’t to decide who is right and wrong but to point out that the strong have the responsibility not to beat their chest and gloat, but to bear “with the failings of the weak” (15:1). This is how and why differences that don’t matter don’t destroy—they are born by others. This is nothing less than the outworking of the love for each other Paul talked about in 13:8-10.
In 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul writes, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” Knowing something and having a conviction about it is a wonderful thing but it carries with it the temptation to look down on those who don’t. When knowledge is accompanied by love it doesn’t seek to flaunt what it knows but to use it to be helpful to others—including bearing the fact that a brother or sister doesn’t have their thinking completely together on something.