1 Corinthians 8:9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
A stumbling-block literally means anything laid in a man?s path, which may cause another to fall or figuratively which may cause another to sin.
To consider the application of this verse one must read the entire Chapter 8; and also worth considering Romans 14 to get a sense of context for this passage. Paul here refers to a number of major issues to illustrate this principal; then we can see how this relates to other issues we will encounter in our walk with the Lord.
In one portion of this passage it was referring to meat that was offered to idols; At that time there was those weaker Jewish Christians who in their background worhipped idols. Some who had turned from heathenism to Christianity among the Corinthians had difficulty letting go of this practice and held onto their practice of idol worship.
Paul says that if eating meat offered to idols offends his brother he will not eat it, so he will not offend his brother. He does not say that he will never eat meat no more; but that not in instances and occasions where it could be offense to a brother; and he would abstain from it as long as he lived if nessessary.
For a believer to take issue with each other over their individual beliefs brought unnecessary hardache. There needs to be respect over the others conscience in this matter.
Another issue that was used as example was that some Jewish Christians held one day in higher esteem over another; many still held fast to the Old Testament following of the Saturday Sabbath. Others considered all days alike and did not recognize the Sabboth.
Again what happened is that each was taking issue with the other over these contenious issues.
What we need to consider here is the difference between important doctrinal issue that needs to be adhered to without compromize; and when something is morally or neutral and we are holding onto ideas or traditions for no good reason. What makes matters worse is that we impose our liberties onto a weaker brother in Christ in areas were they may take offence to.
Though these example may not apply often today in our culture; there is still principles from these passages that we must consider. We can still impose our liberties on another and cause a brother to stumble. We need to be careful to do nothing that may possibly give a weaker brother a reason to defile their conscience. Paul says that our love for our brother in Christ is to be far more important than our own fleshly desires; and we need to be willing to forego our own liberties when this activity may cause another to have issue with. When we injure a fellow Christian it is the same as if we done it to Christ.We are to be careful with our liberty and choices that we make.
Though something may be not evil and appears innocent in itself, we from our liberty must be tender of what we do and condone. As Christians we must be careful not to approach the appearance of evil, though today so many seem to do without considering the outcome of their liberty.
In this passage it is not the unlawful issue involved but that someones liberty may cause a weaker brother in the faith to fall into sin. This brother may be a new babe in Christ who looks for direction from other more seasoned believers; or someone who from being overly liberal or legastic themselves is not decernful. We are cautioned against abusing our liberty, and deny ourselves; for the sake of a brother so as not to use our liberty to their hurt, to their occasional stumbling, or to their ruin.
Consider also the effects when others outside the faith see Christians in disputes over things that should not be. These things can casue some to reject the Gospel, give Christ's people a bad name, bring a bad name onto the Church and also give Christ a bad name; causing some to turn away toward other religions which have no saving power.
The Jewish religion consisted much in meats and drinks, abstaining from some meats and eating others, specifically pertaining to sacrifices; but all those religious cerimonies that were practiced in Old Testiment times has nbeen done away with. Those that were strong should have helped them that were weak toward understanding through friendly instruction whenever possible; then they would be able to choose their liberty with a good conscience. We should be about the business not to please ourselves, but to please God. When we give offence to another, this is an abuse of our Christian liberty. We should be careful to do nothing that may draw a weaker Christian to defile his conscience.
Also we must not act against the dictates of a doubting conscience. In those indifferent areas which we are sure it is not sinful; but are areas that may not glorify Christ; we must not do them while we continue under those doubts.
As an example today; some because of their culture may have a drink on occasion or with a meal as was their custom. The Bible does not call having a drink sin but drunkenness is. Though one may at liberty to have this occasion drink, if this were to offend another Christian or possible draw another to drink who may not be able to control it, this would be causing another to stumble.
Injuries done to Christians are injuries to Christ, wounding a brother's conscience is wounding Him. Stronger Christians should be very careful to avoid what will offend weaker ones, or lay a stumbling-block in their way. How dare we sin against Christ who suffered for us?
We should be very tender of doing any thing that may be an occasion of stumbling to others, though it may be innocent in itself. Liberty is valuable, but the weakness of a brother is more valuable than our own liberties. We need to be carful not to rigorously claim our rights, to the downfall of a brother's soul, and ultimately to injury of our Savior.