There are many subjects and issues in Scripture which are explicitly spelled out for us, giving us little if any room for argument or discussion. For example, the Lord is very clear in His Word how he feels about issues such as homosexuality, theft, idolatry and laziness. That said, there are many other issues that are not nearly as “cut and dry” in the Bible but often instead God gives us principles to live by without giving specific details. Our passage this morning discusses how our spirit and attitude should be towards others with whom we have a difference of opinion.
In 1 Corinthians 8, we come across the subject of eating food that had at one point been offered to idols. Some found that food to be implicitly tainted by the fact that at one point it had been offered to an idol as part of false worship. Others in the church; however, had the attitude that since the idol is obviously just a man-made invention, who cares if that food had at one point been offered to an idol- that’s good food! Paul apparently could eat that food with a clear conscience. However, he also made it clear in verse 13, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh (meat) while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
Let’s swing this principle over to 2018 in America. The issue of eating meat that had once been offered to an idol is not something we face. However, there are many such issues that I think would fall into this category. In my time in fundamental circles, I’ve seen many disagreements among good godly people on things like celebrating (or not) certain holidays, differing music standards, dress standards, public vs. Christian vs. homeschool, and the list goes on. The point of this passage and lesson is not to determine who is right or wrong, but instead what our attitude should be toward others with whom we disagree.
Paul is very clear that if his eating meat that had once been offered to an idol would offend a brother, he would not eat the meat. His attitude was one of submission towards other believers. He was not going to parade around his Christian liberty but was instead going to do whatever was necessary not to offend another believer with his personal standard. Should we study these previously mentioned issues to come to our own personal convictions? Absolutely. Should we compromise our personal standards for the sake of unity? Absolutely not. But while we may be convinced we have the correct stand or understanding on an issue, we need to make sure our attitude is equally as Biblical. As 1 Corinthians 13: 4 reminds us, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”