1 Corinthians 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
Paul was willing to do anything to see people come to Christ, and he was always concerned about the spiritual state of believers and those he ministered to. He endured many difficult things for the sake of the Gospel—imprisonment, stoning, beatings, shipwreck. And here he shows how he would be careful in even what he ate if it might help one person not to stumble. Not eating meat was a small sacrifice Paul was willing to make.
Let’s adopt Paul’s heart for our fellow believers around us. We are often willing to make sacrifices for God. We’ll fast for Him, spend time, money, and talent in whatever task He asks of us. We’ll sacrifice comforts. We’ll travel to far-off lands. But are we willing to give up even the smallest things in order to edify our brothers and sisters in Christ? These are things that aren’t even wrong in and of themselves. But Paul was not willing to risk causing someone to stumble because of anything that he did. Are we willing to make that same commitment?
And we can go beyond even Paul’s example and look at the example of Jesus Himself. Everything He did was to bring glory to the Father, to help the people around Him, to build up their faith and cause them to believe on Him. And we as Christians are to pattern our lives after His and seek to be an example, a help, and a blessing to whoever we encounter in our lives. Let’s not selfishly cling to fulfilling our every desire at the cost of discouraging or harming the spiritual welfare of those around us.
As much as we may try to sometimes, we don’t live in a vacuum. We cannot withdraw into our own safe little bubble completely away from other people. And sometimes what we do in our own lives affects those around us. We should always desire to be a blessing and not a hindrance to whoever we may encounter. We should keep in mind that we are witnesses for Christ to lead the unsaved to salvation and to build up our brethren in Christ.
New believers often look to more mature believers as examples. The issue of Paul’s day was eating meat offered to idols. And there are many issues in our day and age that can cause confusion to new Christians. So let’s be concerned for others’ spiritual states, no matter our own level of spiritual maturity, and guard against anything that may cause others to stumble. We can take Paul’s stand of self-denial for the sake of those around us.