Thursday, May 16, 2024

Stumbling Blocks (1 Corinthians 8:9-10)

"But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak" (1 Cor 8:9).

Notice that in this chapter Paul is addressing the “knowledgeable” Corinthians. He does not speak at all to the weaker brethren. He does not exhort them at this point to attain right knowledge so they will not continue to think something is wrong when actually it is not. Instead, he spends his time addressing those who have all the facts right but are still behaving in a wrong manner.

In verses 9–13, he tries to impress his point as strongly as possible that there is no excuse for knowledgeable Christians to cause weaker brothers to stumble. Paul warns them not to allow their liberty to become an offense to those who are weak. “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?” Notice that the setting of this scenario is in public, “eating in an idol’s temple.” It does not matter how you use your liberty in private, for whether you eat food sacrificed to idols is not another’s concern, but what you do in public is of great consequence. This is an important point because while you must restrain your liberty for the sake of the weak, you must not come under the bondage of another’s conscience. For example, one believer may think it is wrong to drink alcohol and is deeply offended when anyone drinks. You may know this and never drink in his presence. If he should come to your home for dinner, you would not serve alcohol. If he went to a restaurant with your family, you would not order alcohol. However, you should not let the conscience of this believer bind you. When at home alone with your family, or in a situation where this person is not present, you may, if you want, drink alcohol. This does not flaunt your liberty because it cannot be a stumbling block to this other believer since he is not present.

As Paul emphasized at the beginning of this chapter, Christians must act in accordance with the law of love. That means putting others first. This does not mean we become enslaved to the rules of conduct they construct for themselves, but it does mean that we do everything we can to move any stumbling block out of their way (Rom. 14:21).

Do you, in any way, flaunt your liberty before a weaker brother or sister? If so, repent of that sin today and consciously put the concerns and fears of your brethren first. Do you have a friend or an associate in the church who continues to do something that offends you or causes you to stumble? If you have not talked to them about it, do so.