Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again. (1 Cor. 8:13)
Dorothy Parker was a professional critic, reviewing books and plays for some of America’s leading periodicals years ago. Her wit was legendary. Of a performance by Katherine Hepburn, Parker once said, “She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.” Of a novelist’s work, she suggested, “This is not a book to be tossed away lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
Most of us don’t have to worry about being skewered in the national press like that, but all of us have our critics. Some of them might even be called “professional critics,” because everyone knows in advance what to expect from them.
More than once a student has questioned me about Paul’s declaration that he would not eat meat if it caused a weaker Christian to stumble into sin by following his example. “There will always be people whose personal convictions are stricter than mine,” the student would say. “If I worry about what they think or say, I’ll have no Christian liberty at all.”
That dilemma stems from a misunderstanding of Paul’s words. It’s not criticism that Paul feared; he was used to criticism (see 2 Cor. 10 and following). What Paul was determined to avoid was being responsible for someone’s spiritual failure.
Paul had a thick skin but a tender heart. So should we.
Walk so that someone following you is led closer to Christ.
Bob Black is an emeritus professor of religion at Southern Wesleyan University. Along with Keith Drury, he coauthored the denominational history, The Story of The Wesleyan Church.
© 2022 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.