Offending OthersFebruary 28, 2012
If you were ever a teenager you undoubtedly heard complaints from your teachers and parents about your wardrobe choices. I can’t even count the number of times I was sent back inside to change my clothes before my dad would let me leave the house.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I never had a problem with dressing too provocatively, but I was a big fan of thrift store treasures and odd parings. My dad constantly reminded me to consider what other people would think when they saw me.
Being indignant over the idea of dressing for someone else and denying my individuality, I would stomp back to my room and change—letting my protests be heard throughout the house. My attitude towards my dad’s concerns was selfish. I wanted to dress how I pleased and didn’t want to be stifled.
It’s this attitude I think of when I read 1 Corinthians 8—dubbed “Instructions on Christian Freedom.” In this passage Paul teaches believers about living free in Christ, but also stating not everyone understand this freedom. In this example, those who were “free” realized food sacrificed to idols was just as good to eat as food not sacrificed to idols, because these other gods didn’t exist and so the sacrifices held no power. However, in the same breath he said not everyone would grasp this freedom. These people associate eating meat sacrificed to idols as worshipping those idols. In their mind, this was the worst offence possible to God.
If I was in this situation and held the same opinion on sacrificed meat as I once did with my wardrobe I would become frustrated if someone told me to throw away my food. I would probably shout something like, “This is perfectly good meat! What does it matter who they sacrificed it to, we know that’s nonsense!” And stomp away angrily.
But this is not a good reaction. It doesn’t show respect to those who do not share my point of view and, in fact, can cause them great distress. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 8:9, says “But you must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble,” (NLT). He goes on to explain if you encourage this person to eat sacrificed meat, something he truly believes is wrong to do, his faith will be destroyed and you will be responsible.
No pressure or anything.
You can’t live your life trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations, but there are situations where it is important to someone else’s faith that you do or do not do a certain thing. The key is learning to recognize those instances and then acting accordingly.