Weaker Versus Stronger

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

This passage used to puzzle me. I always considered myself a strong brother, but realized I had a few areas where I had a “weak” conscience. After all, who likes to think they’re weak? But it had nothing to do with faith or spiritual strength. It had to do with conscience.

Let me give you a practical but contemporary example. If I believe it’s fine to have a glass of beer or wine occasionally with my dinner but you don’t, you are the weaker brother. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just a different way to approach one of those “peripheral” items we discussed yesterday.

If, however, I go to dinner with you and have that glass of wine, then I have the problem because I know you would be offended by it. That’s wrong. This example is actually an issue that many pastors have drawn the line between what they can do and what they should do in regarding alcohol. If a weaker parishioner sees the pastor, then the pastor could have brought offense. For that reason (and others) many pastors abstain from alcohol.

The guiding principle is the last verse.

It’s not a bad thing to audit some of our activities to see if we might inadvertently bring harm to other Believers. Sometimes, though, having a one-on-one discussion about the merits of such activities is useful for all parties.

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