THINK BEFORE YOU ACT
“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again so that I will not cause them to fall.” (1Corinthians 8:9—13)
Paul addresses the issue of eating meat offered to idols in the presence of “people with a weak conscience.” These people are new believers who are still so accustomed to idols whom when they eat meat offered to idols, they still think of having meat as a sacrifice to a god. And since their conscience is weak, they are defiled. They still lack the knowledge to make the distinction.
In the earlier verses, Paul wrote to mature believers to be careful of their conduct and decision in the presence of those who have a weak conscience wrote this; We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
These words were for believers who possess knowledge of their spirituality. They know they can defend themselves if someone accuses them of eating meat offered to idols. But it’s not about what they know but about whether they apply their knowledge wisely. It is about them thinking about how they exercise their freedom by eating meat that will cause those with a weak conscience to stumble and fall away from their faith.
Knowledge puffs people up when arguing about their rights and thinking their actions are correct. The question is, is it the right action to take? Is it the right place to act in your freedom, especially in front of new believers? What will be the wisest and the most loving thing to do?
Paul said, “Be careful that exercising your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.
My freedom, especially around a weak brother and sister, must be exercised with all wisdom and love. It is essential always to think about where I am and who I am with and the consequences of my unwise action or words that will drive someone Christ died for away from him. Paul stresses the need to be aware of the people we are with and how we must be wise and loving when we are among them. Although I am free to do whatever I want to do, however, the question is always, is it wise and loving? Freedom always has restrictions and limitations as well.
This reminds me that I must always exercise for the sake of those still learning to walk with Jesus. I must not use my freedom to cause someone else to fall away from Jesus. I am free to be all I must be, but I am also aware that my freedom will cause others to fall away from Jesus. I will exercise wisdom and love as I walk with him daily.
Jesus, thank you that your death has set me free. Please help me be someone who is not puffed up with knowledge but wise and loving in applying knowledge appropriately. Please help me to be someone whose action leads others closer to you. Give me your wisdom and love so I may continue to help others walk closer with you. Amen!