“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.”
“Others may, you cannot.” There are certain things that other believers are allowed to do that are forbidden for you personally. These are not the “biggies” like adultery, or murder (or anything in the flesh, see Galatians 5:19-21).
However, there are the relatively small things of individual conscience. They are the issues of personal preference. Sometimes a Christian has the liberty to smoke or drink a glass of wine. Since there are nothing specific in the Bible against these, some feel free to exercise a certain amount of liberty.
In Paul’s time, meat that had been offered up to idols was afterwards sold in the markets. Some believers would buy the meat; others stringently objected to this. Their faith wouldn’t allow this.
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?”
1 Corinthians 10:23-26, 29
I believe conscience is how we are meant to conduct certain decisions. We’re to always surrender our right to do something that might offend another’s principles. Their faith should never be weakened by your actions or behavior. At that point– it becomes sin.
“Idol meat” (code for things of “individual preference”) should never be a stumbling point for other believers. Some issues of conscience could be:
- the theatre, ballet, dancing,
- internet, reading material,
- sporting events, parties
- parades, arena performances,
- movies, TV
- Halloween, solstice observances,
- smoking, chewing tobacco,
- drinking wine or a beer, (but not drunkenness),
- playing cards,
- medications, mental health services,
- rock music, Christmas, eating pork, etc.
Perhaps the real issue to grasp is the manner in which we’ll serve another brother’s faith. I believe that that is the core point. Often the conscience has to be trusted to become the guidance we seek in doing the will of the Lord.
I may have throughly confused you, I pray that I haven’t. Just keep in mind that your conscience should be “tuned in” to the Lord’s Spirit. It is not an infallible guide. Great questions to ask when your wondering if it is right or not:
- Is it loving?
- is it God-honoring?
- is it going to encourage a brother or sister?
- what would be right?
- does it edify (build up)?
Follow the Lord’s lead, “WWJD?” It may sound corny, but there is something of value here.
Your brother, Bryan