Let Them Eat Meat…or Not?
In 1 Corinthians 8 we have a very similar situation to what we read in Romans 14, The problem was that some Christians were eating meat that had been offered to idols and others thought that this was wrong. Paul’s basic point was that there was nothing wrong with eating the meat that had been offered to idols as far as the meat was concerned. The problem came in when eating the meat became a problem for others. Here is how Paul ends the chapter: 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. Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to put the feelings of others ahead of their own feelings. Paul is saying that if we put our “weaker” brother in a position to sin because of our own liberty or freedom, we are actually sinning ourselves. As we mentioned in Romans 14, there is a tension that comes out of these words. Simply because something offends a brother, doesn’t mean I cannot do it. There are those in the Christian community who are offended by women wearing pants or men wearing shorts. Should all of us change our wardrobe because of that? I don’t think so. However, if I have no problem wearing shorts but am invited to someone’s house where the men don’t wear shorts, I’m not showing up to the party in shorts. That would violate a principle that I think Paul is teaching here.
Paul says that when we sin against a brother in this way, we also sin against Christ. This places an importance on the actions and attitudes we take. This is why we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit; not our own likes/dislikes. If we do that, we will do the right thing, no matter what is “passed” before us. By the way, if liver is offered to you, don’t eat it whether it’s been offered to idols or not!