Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Unselfish Freedom

Scriptures:Joshua 15-17, 1 Corinthians 8
Verse of the Day: 1 Corinthians 8:13

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.

The context of chapter 8 is Paul instructing the Corinthians about food sacrificed to idols. This was a common practice for those who worshipped other gods in this pagan culture. For those who recently converted to Christianity, this was a remnant of their old way of life. When they found the One true God through Jesus Cnrist, they wanted to move as far away from their previous lifestyle as possible.

Paul reflects that even though food sacrificed to other gods was worthless and in vain, for these newer Christians it could be a stumbling block. Even though those with "knowledge" knew it was meaningless and empty, in deference to those so called "weaker" Christians, they should not eat this type of meat.

Paul ends the chapter by saying, if what I eat causes others to stumble, I will withhold my rights to support my fellow brother or sister in Christ. Paul says in another verse, "Though everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial." Though we have freedom in Christ, we use it to serve others.

There are many examples today of areas where we have freedom, but we should be sensitive to others areas of temptation. A couple of quick examples. If someone is recovering from alcohol, we should probably not invite them to dinner at the local bar. If someone has a real issue with food, we might ask them where would be a good place to meet to eat. Probably not at McDonald's!

Though alcohol is not an issue for many who use it in moderation, for others it is a lifelong struggle to avoid. This is not about being legalistic about the morality of what to eat or drink, but how we serve each other in Christian community. Paul in essence says, "I will never use my freedom in Christ, to cause my brother or sister to stumble.

Where are some areas in your life where you can serve someone around you by being sensitive to their area of weakness? We all have blind spots where the evil one would love to cause us to slip or fall. As we live in authentic Christian community, we can develop the type of relationships where we can share where we are vulnerable to temptation. Accountability to others is a key in keeping our struggles in the light. This is what I believe is the spirit of what Paul was saying to the believers in Corinth. And if you knew what Corinth was like, you would know why he is saying this!

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