“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 ESV
Okay, so the issue of the day was was obviously something that doesn’t directly apply to us today. When I go to the grocery to buy food, there isn’t a sign over the meat case saying ‘These cows were offered up to Zeus.’ Or ‘These chickens were sacrificed to Baal.’ And so this ‘meat sacrificed to idols’ issue doesn’t really come up.
But the application for us today should be pretty obvious. If there is something you can simply not do and in the process you can save your brother or sister from temptation, why not just give it up? If your brother in Christ struggles with gluttony, why insist on going to your favorite buffet for lunch every week? If your sister in Christ has a problem with drinking, don’t sit across the table from her with a cocktail or a glass of wine. You and I going without something that we don’t really need to have is a much better option than causing someone else to stumble and sin.
We cannot feel so entitled to do whatever we want that we place another living human being underneath a simple desire, acting as thought they are of less value than an impulse.
How many people whine and complain, even as adults, when they don’t get what they want? How many people spend life focused on what they get to do or want to do over their own family members. Personal desire becomes a greater drive than the welfare of another person, and that is no mysterious condition.
It is simply pride.
Paul, the Spirit speaking through him, is encouraging us to consider others as more important than ourselves. That we would do to them as we would want them to do to us. It is not a new teaching, not even a radical idea within the scope of the Kingdom. It is love. So, if giving up meat, or buffets, or alcohol, or a gossipy environment, or secular music (or whatever may come up) will help my brother or sister live more securely in Christ…then why not do it? A want can be put on hold or dismissed. The need for righteousness cannot be ignored.
GoLove by putting others and their needs first.