Proper Use of Liberty

1 Corinthians 8:8-13 (RSV)
"Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol's temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother's falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall."

Is it possible as a Christian to do what is permissible within the liberty granted by the Gospel, yet do wrong? Yes, it is possible to do what is allowable, yet do wrong by being a stumbling block to new Christians who are not yet mature in faith. The counsel given in this passage calls on those more mature in faith to show consideration to those who are "babes". Why? Lest by our exercise of liberty we cause them to turn away from Christian fellowship, or even from Christ Himself.

We must be considerate of those who may, in their current stage of development of Christian faith, view something we do as contrary to Christian living. Even if we view it as not. It is better to cease doing a certain activity, or eating a particular food, or drinking for the sake of our Christian brother or sister. Not doing so is a sin, because by insisting on our liberty we may wound the conscience of our sibling in Christ, who may be "weaker" in the faith, and cause that person for whom Christ gave His life to fall into sin.

Are there things we believe to be all right to do that bother others? It is important to remember that as Christians we do not just live for ourselves. Our actions influence others. Do the things we do draw people to Christ or turn them away from Him? We should always remember that not being a stumbling block may involve giving up something we enjoy. And in Christian love, we must be willing to do this.

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