The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), November 20
“But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ” (1 Cor. 8:12).
Our family enjoys playing cards, so when we have a get-together in our home, card playing just happens.
A couple of years ago our family invited a group of single adults over for fun and fellowship. Playing cards happened.
One young lady brought a friend we didn’t know with her; nor did we know that this young believer was a recovering compulsive gambler.
You can see the developing problem.
We were playing cards, but not gambling with the cards. Well, we found out later that he fell off the wagon! After he left our house he returned to gambling.
Had we known that he was coming and that he had a gambling problem, we would have planned another activity altogether. Who knew?
Our card playing wasn’t wrong; it was just wrong to do so on that day when that brother was in our home. Had we known about his problem and played cards anyway, we would have sinned against Christ and our brother—“And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ” (8:11-12). Sadly, we didn’t know, and we contributed to his downfall.
That’s kind of what Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians 8—except the problem isn’t cards but carved statues and meat offered to idols. What some people knew and worshiped as idols to whom they offered sacrifices, others knew only as carved statues and a source of protein—without any religious connotations whatsoever. Two views, one corrupt and the other innocent.
Seeing another believer eat meat offered to an idol may cause a weaker believer, whose background includes idol-worship, to revert to idol worship. The meat may mean nothing to you, but what means nothing to you may mean something harmful to another. Their problem becomes your problem if you contribute to their problem: “But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to those who are weak” (1 Cor. 8:9).”
Since we had no prior knowledge, we simply caused a brother to stumble. Makes me sad. Had we only known. Our freedom became another person’s captivity.
That experience made our family very sensitive about card-playing. Maybe this fun activity should remain a family and close friend activity, so that it remains fun for us and harmless to others.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (1 Cor. 8:1-11:1):
How does Paul apply the truth regarding offending others in chapter 9?
Which Old Testament stories does Paul use to illustrate man’s vulnerability? What do these stories reveal about human nature? About the consequences of lack of restraint?