Thursday, 28 August 2014
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. 1 Corinthians 8:13
This is the last verse of the chapter which has dealt with “things offered to idols.” However, right at the introduction of the thought, Paul divided that major subject into two over-arching issues. The first was knowledge and the second was love. He then explained how the two do not always work harmoniously together and that love is the preferred avenue to follow when knowledge in a weaker brother is lacking.
The exercise of knowledge without love can lead to sin and so the words of chapter 8 have been given to help the one with knowledge concerning a matter in order to consider it in a way which promotes love first and foremost. The issue of “things offered to idols” was the main area of discussion because it came response to a question submitted to him by those in Corinth. However, the concept rings true in whatever situation one may face, be it any liberty we have but which is not understood by the weaker brother.
To sum up his thoughts, he begins with “therefore.” In this then we can see his final conclusion on this subject. It is an issue he also treated in Romans 14:19-22. Those verses perfectly compliment his thoughts in this chapter. He will also again speak on this subject in his words to the Corinthians. For this portion of the letter however, his conclusion is that “if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat.”
The eating of meat no matter how tasty and delicious, and even if what he proposes to eat is actually acceptable, is not worth causing another to fall into sin because of what he knows to be right. Love towards the weaker brother is more important than what is consumed at mealtime. And this isn’t just for one meal, but – as the Greek reads – “to the age.” It is a term which means “forever.” Paul would gladly give up on his liberties for all his days instead of causing his brother stumble.
If stumbling is an offense, and if he is the cause of the stumbling, then he is actually causing the offense. This is a lesson for each of us as we consider our actions before our weaker brothers. Whatever gain we think we might have from an action, if it causes another to stumble, then it is not worth it.
Life application: The old saying “little eyes are watching” isn’t just true with children who see the example of their elders. It is also true of those who are “little” in the faith. Let’s endeavor with all of our heart to keep our actions in line with this precept in order to keep those less informed from stumbling.
Lord, as I come before You in prayer, I know that I have erred in so many ways since my last prayers to You. My life is a constant stream of hoping to please You and yet continuously falling short of that goal. My words, actions, and interactions with others show me how desperately I need Jesus. Thank You for providing the wondrous salvation that could come in no other way. Thank You for my Lord, His work, His cross, and His resurrection. In that, I know that my erring ways are covered, forgiven, and cast away. Amen.