Wednesday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 (NKJV)
8:1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Today we often run into problems with Christians taking issue with each other and one party claiming to be “offended” by the actions of the other party. When does the discussion in chapter 8 apply, and when is it abused? Remember the context. The weak in this situation are tempted to engage in activities that might lead them to ruin themselves, cause them to sin against conscience because they are too weak to resist the activity. A typical modern example is alcohol abuse. Christians are free to enjoy alcohol in moderation. It is one of God’s good gifts to us. However, if a group of Christians is in the company of a brother who has difficulty in abusing alcohol and difficulty in resisting the temptation to abuse it in festive situations, his fellow Christians have a responsibility to forego their enjoyment of alcohol for his sake. This is a proper application of this chapter.
An abuse of this principle is when a person who has no problem with abusing alcohol becomes angry and disapproving of the freedom of his Christian brothers and sisters, and advocates a false abstinence piety. Some, without biblical warrant, expect all others to be teetotalers. They claim that they are “offended” by the activities of other Christians in this regard. But it is not the same sort of “offense” that this chapter is talking about. These Pharisaical Christians are in no danger of abusing alcohol because of another’s use of it. They merely want to impose their extra-biblical, subjective rules on others. In such cases the Christian should assert his or her Christian liberty.
We pray: Lord, help us to be sensitive to others, but also strong in holding on to our freedom. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.