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Lest I Make My Brother Stumble

February 02, 2021

“However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” - 1 Corinthians 8:7-13


What is something you feel free to do that another Christian would feel is a sin if they were to do it? Maybe it’s drinking alcohol, or dancing, or even wearing certain pieces of clothing. There are certain types of music that some feel the freedom to listen to that others believe are evil. Some Christians feel the freedom to watch movies with stronger, more “adult” content, while others feel this leads them into sin.


A big part of idol worship in Corinth was offering meat to the idol of your choice. Meat consumption was often associated with pagan festivals where idolatry was the main event. For a Corinthian Christian, eating meat could cause them to fall back into idol worship, or at least feel like they’d done that.


Paul is writing to those Christians who know and understand that idols have no power over them, and eating the food presented before an idol has no bearing on their standing before God. These Christians are strong in their faith, able, it seems, to even eat at the temple of an idol without falling back into old pagan ways or damaging their conscience before God. Paul affirms this freedom and agrees with their theology: food does not commend them to God.


However, their ability to do this means nothing if their actions are leading other Christians astray. Just because these strong Christians have and rest easy in this knowledge doesn’t mean they should act on it. As we saw yesterday: knowledge only matters if it’s accompanied by love. In this instance, Paul says he would rather never eat meat again if it means helping his brother in Christ keep from stumbling. He asks that the Corinthians do the same.


Reflection:
Is there something you feel the freedom to do that’s causing a fellow Christian to sin? Ask God to show you how to better love them. Is there something a fellow Christian is doing that causes you to stumble? Ask God for a loving way to speak with this person.




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