IN IT TOGETHER
Lord, keep my example to others profitable and pleasing to You.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 10:23—11:1
The Believer’s Freedom
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
When was the last time you had to adjust your behavior to suit the well-being of less well-informed believers or even unbelievers?
“The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion”: so said “a serious man” to John Wesley. Although there may well be an occasional exception to this rule, for good reason, the Christian life plays out in community with our neighbors and church. Our task is to make sense of God’s Word in relation to our community and the wider world. Paul is aware of this and so wants to motivate his hearers to live with the attitude of service that puts the needs and wants of others first, even when inconvenient. On the principle of individual Christian freedom, he emphasizes that everything is permitted, but not everything is profitable to others.
Addressing the matter of food and drink offered to idols, he reminds the Corinthians that the food itself is not the problem but rather what it represents to others. Food is part of God’s good creation, so we are to enjoy what he gives with gratitude and praise. The caveat he offers is that if someone else associates the food with its pagan links, it’s probably better to abstain, lest the other person get offended or be reminded of the pagan life they have left. This doesn’t mean that Christians are to be excessively fussy. We are free to eat and act as we please, but we should ensure that our example doesn’t offend others to the point of hindering the Gospel. Paul, because of his passion for those who are not yet Christians, tries always to place others before himself and asserts that in doing so he mirrors the attitude of Christ, our great example. Sometimes that attitude and example are easy to recognize in believers today; at other times, perhaps not so much.
To what extent is your life an imitation of Christ’s? How comfortable would you feel asking someone to imitate you as you follow Jesus?
Lord, keep my conduct in the sight of others free from damaging effects as I use wisely the freedom You died to give to me.