March 31, 2018
1 Corinthians 8:13… Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
This is one of those difficult statements. I tried to understand it when I was young and it was too much trouble. Experience taught me that people don’t get to decide when they are stumbling. It is selfish of me to say to someone, ‘What you are doing is making me stumble.’ That is a religious was of saying, “I don’t like what you are doing, so stop it.” However, experience has also taught me that it is possible to cause a brother to stumble by what I do. In focus, here, is the meaning of the word ‘stumble.’ If I don’t happen to like something, that is merely a nod to preference. To ‘stumble’ is to lose balance. Now that I am older I have learned the importance of balance. I have fallen sometimes, when I have lost balance. I have been warned that, as I age, I may lose balance more frequently. Because of that, I am careful where I step. I look for a level spot to place my foot especially when I am stepping over something or off of something.
Spiritually, I get unstable when I stand on sand and not the rock. By way of definition, I consider the rock to be God’s truth. If I plant my feet on a preference and not a rock, I can be knocked down by wind and waves. Have you ever tried to stand on sand near the ocean’s edge when waves are crashing beside you and retreating back into the water? If the sand is moved by the waves, it is difficult to maintain balance. So, ‘stumbling’ is more than preference and disappointment. For me it is stepping off of the rock and taking a stand on sand. I am careful to not make that happen to someone. And we must be on guard against words or actions that make us step from the rock. That is what this statement by Paul means to me. I have a friend who, because of addiction issues, can’t have a drink of alcohol. If I have a drink in his presence, I can cause him to doubt his convictions. That would be wrong for me to do. My deepest concern is for his safety and the place of Truth in his life; exercising my freedom and having a drink is not important in light of his safety. Jesus left heaven to come and die for us. He started this whole thing. Care about others.