WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL HERE? It can be hard for us to understand the underlying problem being addressed in this chapter, and which will be discussed over the next few chapters, since it's not an issue in our culture. Hopefully this little summary helps:
The only reasonably priced meat in town was sold out the back door of pagan temples where it had been used in sacrifices to idols.
Eating food offered to a pagan god seems like an insult to the true God.
Some Christians had stronger doctrinal knowledge than others. They knew that first of all, "an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one (v4)," so just because an animal was processed in front of a statue really doesn't change anything about the meat. Secondly, they knew that our salvation comes by grace through faith, not by what we do or do not eat (v8).
Other Christians, often newer pagan converts, or sometimes those who had come from Jewish backgrounds with lots of rules, had "weak consciences (v7)." When they saw fellow church members eating the meat, it either offended them, or even caused them to lose their faith because it seemed like the meat eaters were total hypocrites.
PAUL'S 'FLUID' ADVICE:
One of the best things about the Bible is that it gives us a source of absolute knowledge. What God says is right is always right, and what He says is wrong is always wrong. This is in stark contrast to our world, in which what's right and wrong is subject to constant change. With issues like this however, we integrate these absolute truths into our lives in a very relative way. In this case, if the meat eating didn't bother anybody, it was right to eat. However, if it did offend some and weaken their faith, then it was wrong to eat it. Make sense?
MAKE THIS REAL:
Try substituting hot button issues from our culture, since the whole meat eating thing isn't really a thing here. What about drinking alcohol? Or wearing a mask?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The one God and Father from whom all things came and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live (v6)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Be careful that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak (v9)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: