Thinking of Others

But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak. For if someone weak sees you who possess knowledge dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience be “strengthened” to eat food offered to idols? So by your knowledge the weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed. If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.” 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 NET


In our current culture, one can stop the many. We used to make the one comply with the many, but now we think being sensitive and caring for others places the desires of the one above the many. This leads to chaos, selfishness, and everyone doing whatever they think best. Societal conformity is what keeps society together. The church is to be in unity in love for Jesus and love for one another, but it does not have to be uniform in practice. Paul tells us to be sensitive to the one whose conscience is weak lest we lead them into sin. What he means is that if what we do causes someone to do the same thing, but they believe it to be a sin, we are not loving them (v10). I smoke cigars. Some of my Christian brothers and sisters find it repulsive. Should I cease because they think it is sinful or at least harmful? Not unless my smoking cigars leads them to smoke cigars when they believe smoking is sinful. Those I know who dislike my cigar smoking have no desire to smoke cigars, regardless of my decision. Therefore, I can continue to smoke cigars while loving my brother or sister. If someone does not like some of our behaviors, it is not their freedom to cause us to cease our behavior. Some things are sinful, but most things are subject to preference. Loving our neighbor is knowing the difference and allowing one another to live before Jesus in the freedom they have been given by Jesus rather than demanding everyone conform to our wishes because we claim to be afraid or our conscience is weak.

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