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Lest He Stumble

1 Corinthians 8:13 (ESV) – Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

To what degree can we exercise our freedom in Christ when others could possibly be offended by it? That is not an easy question. Some people’s instincts would be to never do anything that others would perceive to be sinful, even if it wasn’t. There is a lady in my church that can’t believe I could watch a show that has a curse word in it. Other people would never let someone else’s misguided belief that something is sin keep them from doing what they want. What’s the answer? 

That is the subject of today’s passage. We read Paul’s address about Christian liberty and conscience here in 1 Corinthians. He addressed the divide over the food laws. Jews were not permitted in the Torah to eat certain types of food. But Gentiles never had restrictions on their diets. This issue became prominent as Jews and Gentiles became Christians who trusted Christ. What was the law regarding food now? We read Paul say this, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”

The New Testament teaches that Jesus fulfilled the law. There are no more restrictions on dietary choices. One of the biggest meetings in the early church revolved around this issue (Acts 15) and circumcision. Peter’s vision (Acts 10) showed him that the Lord had declared food clean, just as He declared Gentiles clean. This new teaching provided liberty for the Jews who previously had restricted diets. But not every Jew was convinced this was the right thing. Some believed it was still sin. Paul’s answer here in our text was that Christians who believed they had liberty should enjoy their liberty, but not at the expense of their brother. In other words, they shouldn’t invite their brother over for pork chops if they know he struggles with the dietary liberty in the gospel.

This is applicable in many ways. The goal is for Christians to love their fellow brothers and sisters in ways that honor and respect their differences. Dietary restrictions, views on alcohol, or tattoos are some things Christians land in different places over. But these are not 1st Tier issues that should divide us.

Christians are free to disagree without breaking fellowship. However, they should honor and respect one another lest they cause their brother to stumble.
This is fulfilling the call to love our neighbor. 

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Reflection & Journal:
- Why do people struggle with other Christians landing in a different position on Christian liberty issues?
- What is the best way for us to engage with other believers about these types of issues?
- How does our text today help with modern versions of Christian liberty debates?

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