Relations with Our Brethren

1 Cor. 8:9-12

In this passage we see Paul speaking to some in the Corinthian church who have “knowledge.” He was probably indicating by this word that their apprehension of the things of God and of the new liberty that has become theirs through Christ is greater than that of others with the same church, who possibly have not been saved so long, and are not so advanced spiritually as the others. They had all been brought up amidst idolatry, and knew that most of the meat sold in the marketplace had previously been offered to idols, and the recently saved were not sure what their attitude should be in relation to eating this meat as food. They still felt that in some way the meat was affected by its previous offering to idols, and their conscience was not clear about eating it. The better taught Christian had learned that the meat in the market place was simply meat and he could with a good conscience eat it. Now, says Paul to the ones with “knowledge,” be careful how you act in this matter—your weaker brother is watching you, and if he sees you eating that about which he is uncertain, he may be inclined to do the same, although his conscience is telling him that he ought not to do so. He is thereby stumbled.

Paul asks a very important question in verse 11, “through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” Surely he is saying, “be very careful how you act in relation to weaker believers—they are precious to Christ—how the Lord loved them!” He stresses the same point in Romans 14:15 and reiterates, “Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died.” In the background the apostle sees the cross and see the preciousness of all those who have been redeemed by blood. Surely, if I love the Lord, I shall not want to hurt others who also love Him. If I sin against them by my example, I am sinning against Christ. It may not be eating meat offered to idols; my example may be in relation to smoking, drinking, cinemas, gambling, etc.—how tragic if my example in relation to these things, or other doubtful things, led  a younger believer to follow me and his spiritual life become a disaster. How can I look at Calvary and see the love of my Lord for my fellow-believer and then do that which will harm him? “Let this mind be in you.”