“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak…When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 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” (1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13).
Yesterday, we looked at the positive command of these verses: How can I add value to the people around me?
Today, we will look at the negative consequence of these verses: When we sin against a brother and sister, we sin against Christ himself.
The context of these verses has to do with food sacrificed in pagan worship. Even though the strong and mature in the faith had no problems eating meat that had been used in pagan worship because they knew that there is only one true God, and that there are no other gods, the weak and the new in the faith were stumbling as a result of seeing Christians eat meat that had been used in pagan rituals.
Those who cause a brother or sister in the faith to stumble or fall sins not only against their fellow brothers and sisters. They sin against Christ himself!!! That is a loaded statement!
Let’s unpack that.
There is no separation of Christ from his followers. Just as there is no separation from the head from the body. As soon as such a decapitation occurs, the whole body is dead. So it is with the church of which Christ is the head and we are the body. When we sin against another, when we cause a brother or sister to fall because we refuse to curb the exercise of our freedom and rights, we sin against the very Christ we worship.
Jesus says in Matthew 18:6, “If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
The little ones certainly refer to children, but they also refer to those new in the faith, those who are less mature in the faith.
Paul tells the church:
- Don’t let the exercise of your rights to become a stumbling block to the weak
- When you sin against them in this way and wound their conscience, you sin against Christ
- Don’t do anything that causes another to fall
As you go about this day:
- Add value to the people around you
- Don’t let the exercise of your freedom and rights to be a stumbling block to others
Protect, honor, and add value to the body of Christ for the sake of Christ.