S (Scripture): 1 Corinthians 8:12 If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way (eating food sacrificed to idols, and thereby causing them to “sin”) and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 8:13 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.
O (Observation): In Paul’s time, many gods and idols were worshipped. Before these verses, Paul acknowledges the fact that idols are worshipped and food is sacrificed to those idols. Those who are Christian know that, because there is only ONE God, that this food is then just plain food (and not “really” a sacrifice), so they feel free to eat this food with a clear conscience.
However, for the sake of those weak in the faith (in Jesus Christ), those who are still struggling with some belief that other gods exist…then eating those foods sacrificed to idols could make them think they would be sinning if they ate this food. Or that it would make them struggle with their faith even more.
Paul is reminding the people that there is more at stake here than one’s own individual faith. One must consider the neighbor who may need to be guided through their faith journey. And if he must, as much as he enjoys that good sacrificed to idols, he might just have to avoid that food…if it causes his brother/sister harm to their faith.
A (Application): Drinking. That’s our like a food sacrificed to idols, I think. Some people see a person drinking and think that it’s dangerous, or downright sinful. So, if you’re hanging with people who don’t like to drink, do you? What if they are an alcoholic? Maybe in moderation? Maybe not at all?
This issue comes down to caring for your neighbor. Will your action cause harm to their faith or well-being? If so, are you willing and able to lay it down…to forgo what you think is perfectly fine?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see that we don’t need the “food sacrificed to an idol,” especially if it causes our neighbor’s faith to weaken. Amen.
(Disclaimer: I like beer : )