1 Corinthians 8:13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
As Christians, we have a great liberty in Christ. We are not under the demands of the Law in regards to our salvation, security, or sanctification. That is not to say that the Law was unrighteous or imperfect, (Romans 7:12), but that Christ has liberated us from the works of the Law for our day-by-day existence. However, liberty has its limits! Liberty is freedom from bondage, not freedom from restraint and rule. This is the gist of the eighth chapter of first Corinthians.
As we grow and mature in Christ, our perceptions and eventually our practices can change as we come to understand on more practical levels the Truths of God’s Word. We gain knowledge in matters that help us to better grasp the great liberty we have been given in our salvation, but we must be cautious with knowledge that we do not forsake charity, (1 Corinthians 8:1). Our maturity in Christ must never become self-serving or prideful. Those traits will cause a great deal of damage to the Body of Christ that simply is not necessary. Mature Christians seek to edify other Christians, even at the expense of things in which they have liberty.
It is with these types of thoughts in mind that Paul wrote our text. He understood that a Believer could eat food that had been sacrificed to idols because, in giving thanks to God, it would be sanctified by God to the Believer. The idols were dead and lifeless and the fact that someone had dedicated that food to a piece of stone or wood was not going to affect the spiritual life of the Christian. Nevertheless, not every Christian had that understanding. Therefore, Paul’s practice was to not eat food that may cause another Believer to be offended and stumble in his Christian life than to take advantage of his liberty in spite of others.
What a tremendous principle for our Christian lives. Our primary purpose is to bring glory and pleasure to our God. He is first and foremost in all things. Following that, we must purpose as Believers to edify, that is to say, build up other Believers. This glorifies God! While we can live our lives free from the bondage of sin and the Law, we must stay within the boundaries of holiness and edification. Certain practices and liberties that we have in Christ are not yet understood by other Christians who dwell around us and are daily influenced by the way we live our lives. It may be that we need to give up something that is perfectly within the boundary of liberty, but steps over the boundary of edification.
When is the last time you examined your life to see if you have caused a brother to offend? Are we living our Christianity for our sake only, or for the sake of other Christians? Can we with Paul say, “If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend?”