Paul is beginning to address “freedom” under the new covenant. In our reading today he addresses eating restrictions. But his real message focuses on loving your brother above your freedoms.
I’m assuming this topic had to do with the Corinthian’s original letter to Paul. They apparently possessed knowledge that it was not a sin to eat meat that had been offered to idols. But their “knowledge” made them proud and boastful. Probably a little judgmental of others who didn’t possess this knowledge.
Paul respects their knowledge and freedom. He doesn’t take away from it or tell them they are in error. He is in agreement with them on this point. He is probably the one who taught this to them in the first place. What he does do though is strongly caution them to use care when exercising that freedom.
The care is not for their own sake, initially, but for their weaker brothers and sisters. Those who don’t understand they are free. To them this is still sin. If they partake in your freedom without the conviction in themselves that this is not a sin, then it IS a sin for them. Their heart will convict them and cause a division between them and God.
Nothing for you/me to be concerned about though, is there? YES! Because of YOUR/MY actions leading one of Jesus’ little ones into sin, YOU/I are responsible for what it does to their relationship. YOU/I put the block between them and God. YOU/I are responsible for their sin. Now it becomes your/my sin. Not the eating of meat but the placing a stumbling block in the path of one of His little ones.
We know what Jesus said about causing one of His to stumble: “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). Jesus doesn’t take this lightly. He protects His little ones.
When Jesus says “one of these little ones” He doesn’t mean only chronologically young in age but also spiritually. Jesus protects His new babes in the faith as fervently as little children. Be careful to protect them too.
Protecting them requires love. Love sets aside my “rights” to minister to the needs of others. Love builds up the faith of another without boasting or pushing. Love allows time for growth. And love rejoices with the other at each stage of the process.
Father God, because of where I am tonight I didn’t know how I was going to focus on Your word tonight. It amazes me every time when just the right thing comes from Your word when I need it the most. My issue didn’t coincide with Paul’s topic of food sacrificed to idols but with love. You spoke straight to my heart with the words “love builds up.”
I’m struggling physically to keep up with the changing demands in my life, but because of love, I will continue. I will continue to build my husband up, even as physical attributes begin to fall away. I will continue to build my skills to meet his changing needs. I will continue to praise You to build up his faith. I will continue to praise You as You build our relationship stronger each day. Please give me patience with the process and protect me from hurting myself. Help me find the right words to reach past his fog so he can help me move him about. Please help me keep him safe and reassure him of his safety with me as I move him. Please remind me to pray before each transfer for Your wisdom. Thank You for the times You saved both of us from disaster so far. Thank You that when I thank You he does too. That we both recognize Your intervention on our behalf. Thank You for loving me. It amazes me how You speak to me even when I’m resistant or exhausted. You know exactly what I need.