A late family member, whom we interacted with primarily during the holidays, had a major issue with anyone claiming to be a believer while drinking alcohol in any amount. Without warning, he would tell you exactly how he felt. While he came across as critical, we knew this was something he truly believed was wrong. We also knew we were free to drink a glass of wine or have a cocktail after dinner. Although we were initially annoyed, we decided as a family to respect his beliefs in order to preserve the relationship. In this passage, Paul wrote about a similar issue in the church of Corinth.
- When have you exercised a freedom that adversely impacted someone else?
READ THE WORD: 1 CORINTHIANS 8:1-13 (ESV)
8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 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.8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 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? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 4-13.)
- Why were the Corinthian believers free to eat of the food offered to idols (vss. 4-7)?
- Who were the two types of people Paul addressed in the church of Corinth (vs. 10)?
- Why was this not just a matter of difference of opinion? What dramatic word did Paul use to describe the consequence to the weaker person (vs. 11)?
- What is the sobering truth in verse 12? How is a believer’s exercise of freedom to the detriment of another believer viewed by God?
- How does knowing how your choices may affect a newer or weaker believer change the way you live? What are some freedoms you’ve been taking that you need reconsider, so as not to be a stumbling block?
RESPOND TO GOD
This is a firm passage with serious consequences for both the strong and weak follower of Christ. It applied to the Corinthians, but it also applies to us today, especially in terms of our interdependent relationships with fellow believers. Putting aside our freedoms for the benefit of someone else requires sacrifice and love—things freely provided and modeled for us by Jesus Christ.
- Pause to remember: You, and all things, exist for and through God the Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- Thank Jesus for his sacrifice and love that frees you from sin and bonds you to him and to other believers.
- Ask God for insight into how you may be causing another believer to go astray, and for ways to uplift others as you follow him.