11 “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish,
Paul viewed the weaker Christian as having the possibility of perishing. The word “perish” often refers to physical death (Matthew 8:25; Acts 5:37) and can be translated “ruined” (Matthew 9:17). The weak believer can lose his sense of wellbeing and end in spiritual disaster. By causing a weak Christian to stumble, we may ruin his usefulness. He may remain a Christian with arrested spiritual development all his life.
for whom Christ died?
This is the climax of the argument. The weaker Christian has value because Christ had to die for his sins. The word “for” means for the sake of. It is patently obvious that this person is a Christian because Christ died for him, so he has value because Christ went to great lengths to save his soul.
But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
Sinning against a weaker Christian is sinning against Christ. All Christians are members of the body of Christ, thus to sin against them is to sin against Christ. An injury against a child is an injury against his parents.
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Paul put himself in the place of the person who causes the weaker Christian to stumble – he would limit his liberty for the sake of weaker believers. The Greek word for “stumble” is skandelon, which means a trigger on a trap. If eating dinner in a pagan temple meant triggering a spiritual trap for the weaker believer, Paul would not eat there but would rather do his utmost to help weaker Christians.
Exercising liberty without love has, even more, to do with sinning against Christ than offending a weaker brother.
Mature Christians are to act on love rather than stand on their rights. We all know people who have been Christians for 20 or 30 years and have never grown because someone tripped them up. They have not been worth their salt all those years because they began disillusioned with some Christian they had respected. Often cars pile up in chain accidents on the freeway because one driver follows the vehicle ahead of him too closely. Sheep often follow sheep instead of the Shepherd. When there is a pile-up, usually, there is not just one accident but a series of accidents.