S: 1 Corinthians 8:8-13 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol’s temple, won’t his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forever more, that I don’t cause my brother to stumble.
1 Corinthians 10:27-33 But if one of those who don’t believe invites you to a meal, and you are inclined to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for the sake of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” don’t eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” Conscience, I say, not your own, but the other’s conscience. For why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasion for stumbling, either to Jews, or to Greeks, or to the assembly of God; even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved.
Mathew 18:4-7 Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes!
O: We have a tendency to make laws out of the principles God teaches us. Here, the principle is “don’t cause others to stumble” but many Malaysian Chinese Christians end up pushing family members further away from Christ by refusing to eat the family meal at the Chinese New Year reunion dinner because the food had been offered to the ancestors first. This sends the wrong message of “Now that I’m a Christian, I am no longer part of this family.”
Jesus, in the Matthew passage, points out that causing people to stumble is a great evil. Our role here on earth is to be ambassadors for Christ — to attract people to Christ, not to repel them by our rigidity.
A: We must therefore take the trouble to think through and evaluate each situation instead of using canned answers. Our situation may be different from anther person's situation. We cannot just always take the solution that someone else has used before.
P: Father, please give us wisdom when faced with difficult situations and not use canned answers, but be wise in applying Biblical principles to the situation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)