Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Romans 14:1-3 NIV
But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
I Corinthians 8:7-9 NIV
Paul used various terms in his letter to the Corinthians to express the differences between the new, young, infant, weak believers and the mature, strong, adult, believers. Who are the weak believers and who are the strong?
We must remember when reading I Corinthians that it was one of Paul’s first letters to any church. Many of the believers in Corinth were mere babies in their Christian faith. The entire church was only 3 years old, so everyone was only 3 years or less into their faith journey. A few were mature in their faith but most Corinthian church members were very new to the concepts Paul was teaching.
Let’s think about an example with young children learning math or reading. Both require learning the basics before going on to the more complicated concepts. It is helpful to teach rules that apply most of the time – to guide these young, immature learners. But, as they learn and grow in an understanding of math and literature, exceptions to the rules become more common. A young child often can’t understand or even tolerate anything that is out of order, or done differently from the way their parents or their first teacher taught them. As children grow, mature and develop, they learn that sometimes there is more than one acceptable way to do things.
A young or weak Christian in Corinth might have viewed eating meat sacrificed to idols as being the worst kind of sin. A mature Christian in Corinth would recognize, “food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” I Corinthians 8:8. The mature Christian understands some behaviors are addressed specifically in scripture and others are not. A mature Christian will look at Jesus’ teaching, pray, consider and decide what is the correct behavior for himself in those areas not specified in Scripture.
In 2022 in Littleton Colorado, food sacrificed to idols is not a problem we contend with, but there are other questions we have to face:
How will we as a family deal with Halloween?
Is drinking alcohol okay for me or for my children?
How will we worship God?
How will we observe Sabbath?
Think about a “questionable” behavior; look in scripture, pray, and ask God to direct your behavior concerning that “questionable” behavior. Strive to respond as a mature believer would.