Verse: 1 Corinthians 8:7-13
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Ok… to be honest as one of the vegetarians (if not the only) on the devotion writing team, I REALLY want to say the point of this passage is in the ending “I will never eat meat”. However, that’s not the point of this passage, sadly. In order to understand this, we need a bigger context.

In Verse 7 “this knowledge” refers to the knowledge that there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus, rather than many gods and idols. Therefore, these verses speak about taking action to protect people whom either do not have a relationship with the Lord or who have specific struggles in their faith or may be newer to their faith. It also refers to people specifically who come into relationship with the Lord, but continue to fall back into sinful behaviors.

The example given in relation to the people of Corinth is people who participate in pagan feasts, become saved, but then continue to participate in these pagan feasts and eating meat offered to false idols/gods. Paul is making the point that all actions should be conducted out of the overflow of faith, to act in accordance of what pleases God. Paul ends with this statement that he will never eat meat again to make the point that as believers claiming the name of Christ, it is our duty to be selfless and prioritize the good of others to help point them closer to God, rather than away from Him.

Be cautious, these verses aren’t trying to enforce a set of rules or set specific guidelines that all believers should follow. Paul was under no direction from the Lord to abstain from eating meat, just as He’s not telling you to stop eating meat. Paul was free to eat meat. God is not requiring anything from us. He is telling you that we must find the balance between abusing the freedom given to us and living by rules that God never set for us. (Legalism vs license) Paul is telling us to choose love over personal liberties. Even though he was free to eat meat, he chose not to because it may tempt others around him to engage in eating the meat from pagan festivals. The same principles are true for us, our motivation in all of our actions is to be love, to bring glory to God and to draw others nearer to Him.

Lord, thank you for words that are as relevant to me today as they were in Corinth thousands of years ago. Help me to find a moment of quiet to be still and listen to Your voice. Show me the areas of my life that I can strive to love the people around me better and to bring You glory. How can I use my actions to point others towards You rather than tempting them away from You Lord, walk with me today to bring my awareness to the situations around me that I can choose to respond in an overflow of Your love. Amen

Author: Becca Artymenko