Kingdom Living Essentials
Knowledge puffs up; love edifies (1 Corinthians 8).
Knowledge puffs up means that we think we are better than someone else and so see no wrong in being a stumbling block to them. Love edifies means that we put others faith and reason before our own and are willing to give up something that to us really isn’t that much of a sacrifice.
In his letter to the Church at 1st century Corinth, Paul admonished the congregation to put away their idol worship. Idol worship results in a person giving into the various appetites we are naturally born with, but using them for sinful ends.
Paul is exhorting the Believers at Corinth to let go of their self-indulgence ways and start living for the eternal Kingdom, not the perishing one.
When we think of others more than ourselves, that is a right step in Kingdom living. One of our problems is, however, that we have a tendency to believe that we are helping others when in fact, we are still only being self-indulgent; and may be enabling instead of helping.
The Apostle is advising the more mature members of the congregation on how best to handle “weaker Brothers.”
So, the apostle Paul here, when confronted with the idea of someone attaching significance to something where there is no significance, like a piece of meat, isn’t so interested in the meat, but in what that person believes the meat represents.
To put it another way: people believe in the strangest things. Believing in idols and the things associated with them is downright crazy and Satanic. Satanic because it’s a lie. Yet, it was very common in Paul’s time and really, not much has changed in 2000+ years.
“Hey,” to paraphrase Paul, “if someone attaches (imagined) significance to some object, whether it be organic or not, is it really that difficult for you to give that something up?”
Paul is saying that using that object, whatever it may be, will skew or dilute someone else’s faith in the living God. When that happens, it is not a far road back to their former false beliefs.
This is not an easy issue as it isn’t really black and white. But it is not a stretch to say that it lies at the very heart of a solid congregation that is growing in its faith in Jesus.
So, should a Pastor drink alcohol if someone has just come to Jesus with that particular problem?
Well no, but not because it is particularly difficult for him to give it up. He should give it up because a “weaker brother,” i.e. someone who does have problems with alcohol, looks up to him and his faith.
Now, what happens if this pastor is seen in an establishment that serves alcohol, like a pizza palor? Is that okay? Well, sure. He can eat pizza without alcohol and that is really no problem at all. Unless, of course, the “weaker Brother” once worshipped pizza.
Paul describes it as causing a Brother to stumble. Not fall completely from faith, but as a hinderance to faith in Jesus. And then Paul says, if that be the case, he will have no trouble giving up the thing that is the stumbling block.