1 Corinthians 8:9,12 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
I chose these two verses today because I found a certain irony in what Paul was saying. In essence, your freedom in Christ can lead to sinning against Christ. That seems problematic. This whole topic really links to my blog entry the other day about Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwiches. When liberty in Christ leads to trouble, then you are missing the spirit, or the heart of the matter.
Here’s the deal, let’s say that you and a friend are taking a walk together. If you are athletically inclined you can substitute a nice run in this scenario. I’m just going to keep it real in regards to my exercise level. Okay, so you are on a walk. The conversation is nice; the air is crisp. Then out of nowhere, your friend sticks his foot out and trips you… on purpose. You have got to be kidding me. Why in the world would you trip me on purpose? Is it because I was walking too fast? Or maybe I was walking too slow? That’s just not right. You be trippin’, fool!
Let me put it in other terms. You have a friend who is not saved. In fact, she often tells you how judgmental Christians are. You try to convince her otherwise, but she has made up her mind: Christians are self-righteous and judgmental. Geez, self-righteous too, huh? You can’t seem to convince her that not all Christians are like that and she is starting to believe you. She is watching your life and is starting to soften. Then it happens. A mutual friend does something that you don’t approve of and you tell this first friend (with the hangup) all about it. You give her your opinion of this other friend and then you’ve done it. You’ve tripped her. She was right – Christians are judgmental.
Paul tells us that when we make someone else trip, we are sinning against Christ. In fact, we not only sin against Christ, we work against Him as He is trying to get to their hearts. In the case of the Corinthians, it was about eating food sacrificed to idols. But the lesson goes far beyond food. It can span into any area of weakness. When we are a stumbling block for someone else, we’ve now got a problem. Because not only do we wound others, we sin against Jesus. I don’t know about you, but that is territory I would like to stay away from.