So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – 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. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
This is the summary of Paul’s teaching about a believer’s freedoms (rights) and constraints. Although the issues pertain to food sacrificed to idols, idol feasts and food in general, the principles remain the same.
- Everything that we do, no matter how neutral the action is, needs to glorify God. Food in itself is neutral, it doesn’t bring us closer or further from Him (1 Corinthians 8:8), but if eating it causes a weaker brother/sister to stumble, then it isn’t glorifying to God (1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13).
- In Christ, we have freedom. That means we no longer live under the Law, instead we enjoy living in grace. Whatever is neutral (not sin by commission or omission) is open to our enjoyment. Yet, we do not indulge in this right to enjoy our freedom. Instead, we position ourselves as servants of others (1 Corinthians 9:19), giving up even the most basic of our rights so that others might be saved (1 Corinthians 9:12). Who are the “others”? It’s simply every and any one – Jews, Gentiles, weaker brothers/sisters and even the church of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:20-22, 10:32; our witness is strong in unity, John 17:20-23). And we endure this, Paul make no illusions that this is a painful process (1 Corinthians 9:27). This doesn’t mean that we commit sin to reach out of course, but in times when we are placed in difficult positions, God is with us (1 Corinthians 10:8-9, 13-22).
- How far do we go to seek the good of others? How far do we go to serve them? As far as their freedom will take them (1 Corinthians 10:28-29) if they are involved. No freedom or right of ours stands before the conscience of others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Yet God is gracious, the concession for us is that we are free to indulge where others are not involved (1 Corinthians 10:25-27, 30).
These words cast a wide net on the things we do, the people we consider and the lengths we go in our daily walk with God. It seems like an impossible task, but still Paul says “follow”.
This task is important because brings salvation, the ultimate benefit for any man. It is our witness for Christ. Just as it was Christ’s witness and Apostle Paul’s witness, it is our witness. By doing so, we make ourselves walking and living pieces of evidence that Christ is real.