Risky Business

Feb 3, 2014Vickie Carmichael

1 Corinthians 8:8-9:23

This passage in 1 Corinthians was part of an actual letter to the church. Pretend you have just pulled this letter from your mailbox. Read the words as though they are handwritten by a friend.

“But fortunately God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.”

1 Corinthians 8:8-9 (msg)

Paul is saying that we need to be sensitive to the fact that we’re not all at the same level of understanding in our Christian walk. Are some things right for one and wrong for another? Well, yes, sometimes they are. When knowledge uninformed by love dictates one’s behavior, Paul warned that spiritual harm could result.
For example, in this bit of scripture, those steeped in centuries-old Jewish tradition found it difficult to believe there was nothing wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols. To do so would have violated their own consciences. Paul, on the other hand, recognized that he could eat such meat without sinning. But, he respected the sensitivities of those who did not feel as he did. Paul is instructing us not to compromise our integrity or the integrity of others; to be sensitive to those whose faith might be hindered or possibly destroyed by our behavior.

This is about doing the right thing to further the glory and the honor of God. Like Paul, this scripture challenges us to present the gospel in the most honorable way possible. At times, we lay aside our belief in order to ensure another continues in the right direction. We don’t want to risk someone’s eternal ruin. Can you think of a time when you could have been more sensitive to other believers who may have a different understanding than you?

Paul voluntarily did what he could to gain the widest possible hearing for the gospel; he would not risk his own freedoms if it would be a stumbling block in a new Christian’s walk with God.