Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
“Knowledge puffs up but love builds up,” Paul wrote in verse 1. He is concerned for people, as we all should be. There is understanding that Paul shares in this chapter that will give freedom to those who are following Jesus, but that knowledge always takes a backseat to people. If there are people who do not know or have not heard about such freedom in Christ and the exercise of that freedom causes them to stumble, Paul says he’d never do it.
We must be willing to be ‘enslaved’ for the benefit of others. We must be ‘free’ for them too. There is a level of discernment needed to know how best to help people, and it is different from situation to situation, but the principle of ‘Others First’ is strongly established here. We do not live for ourselves. We think of others and what will strengthen their faith in Jesus.
This, of course, is not my default. I am self-centered and self seeking most of the time. Self-interest is the starting place for me… but by the power of the Spirit of God working in my life I move away from that place and become other-centered. How can I serve? How can I encourage? What do people need? How can I help?
It seems simple, but living ‘Others First’ is a demonstration of God’s Presence in my life.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Lord Jesus, I worship You today. You thought of me when You went to the cross. Your desire was to avoid it, but You did not preserve Your own life for my sake. Thank You! May I live as You lived and give my life away for the benefit of others today.