1 Corinthians 8: To Consume or Not?
Sometimes we just want to know what we have to do and what we should avoid doing. We want to reduce Christianity to a long checklist of concrete items that we can use to accurately evaluate our performance in a progression towards holiness. Obviously, it doesn’t work that way, and 1 Corinthians 8 points out the kind of difficult situation that I’m sure many of us have encountered before in a modern context.
1Co 8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
1Co 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
1Co 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
Paul was be about the context of eating food that had previously been offered to idols. For some people, that was a really big problem, and others were saying that it really was not that big of a deal. Paul did not think it was a big deal unless it caused someone else to stumble. If eating this meat was causing a division, then as he said in verse eight, it is not going to hurt us to abstain for that one meal.
It wasn’t that the meat was inherently sinful, but causing divisions is mentioned many times throughout the letters of Paul. If this becomes such a big deal that people are going to be offended by something that really doesn’t even benefit the consumer that much, then it is not worth doing.
It seems to me that this is somewhat similar to the perspective on alcohol. There are some people who don’t mind consuming some, and there are other people who do not think it is right to consume any. If you happen to be one of those who believe it is all right to consume some, I think this verse might be applicable for you when you are with one of those who believe that all alcohol ought to be prohibited. It is more about consideration for your fellow Christian, and it is more about preserving unity.
Obviously, we don’t compromise on major issues, but when we are causing problems for our brothers and sisters, we need to look out for their interests as well