“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” (1 Corinthians 8:13)
Would you give something up if it caused another to stumble in their faith? Today’s reading is interesting when we consider it in our “me-focused” generation. As a teacher of teens, I often hear statements that echo blatant selfishness. “I haven’t done anything wrong”; “It wasn’t my fault”; “I can do whatever I like!” — sentiments that overtly reflect a lack of empathy for others. However, as young people grow into maturity and test the moral boundaries of life, it is to be expected that they will question their identity, which will inevitably shape their questioning regarding what they like and dislike. As Christian adult role models, then, our aim is to guide our young ones to consider others so they not only look to fulfill their own needs but also be considerate of others — because empathic, caring young people grow into empathic, caring adults. The message of the Bible is to consider the needs of others, as the Philippians text teaches us all to: “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” (Philippians 2:3,4).
It’s a tall order, though, isn’t it? Born into sin, we innately find it difficult to put others’ needs before our own. We can only achieve this loving duty when we ask for God’s help. More than ever, in our modern social climate, there are so many distractions and influences that do not even consider the effect that one’s own actions might have on another. Behaviours heralding increasing greed, selfishness and utter individuality, which equates to what many identify as a “me” generation, seem only to be escalating.
Today’s reading paints such a refreshingly different picture. Let us consider for a brief moment what Jesus has done for us! He gave his life so we can live as free people: Free to love and serve our brothers and sisters. We have been freed from the bondage of sin, guilt and shame. We are free to go that extra mile when we might be feeling tired or discouraged. We are free to give up that pet sin that might cause us to be a stumbling block for others, therefore, witnessing Christ working in us. All is possible with God’s help (Matthew 19:26)! We just need to ask him.
Lord, fill my life with Your love and grace. Let that love flow out from me to everyone around me. Let everyone see the love and peace You promise daily, so that we would all live the life You intend. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.