1 Corinthians__8

Scripture  1 Corinthians 8:9   Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

Observation-What does it say?  Corinth was a town of excess, where the social elite lived luxuriously.  There were temples to different gods in the city, and celebrations for the different trade organizations were often held at these many temples.  A lot of the meat sold at the markets in Corinth had been previously sacrificed in one of these temples.  So it was very difficult to separate from the paganism in the town.

Many of the Christians held that, since the “gods” were really not gods at all, the meat was acceptable to eat.  While this is true, they needed to be cautious in exercising their freedom in a way as to not make others struggle in their faith.  Thus, Paul encouraged them to abstain from eating meat sacrificed to “idols.”  

Understanding-What does it mean?  Christians don’t dance.  They don’t drink alcohol or use tobacco.  You can’t use curse words.  Christians don’t listen to secular music.  Most importantly, Christians don’t do anything fun on Sunday.  As a kid, this was my understanding of rules for proper Christian living.  It was as if this chaste living were going to make you good enough to go to heaven.  So when I got older, and I had my first beer, I was surprised that I wasn’t struck down by lightning.  Then I had a cigar or two and I had the same result, no lightning or death.  I felt as though I was lied to about the “rules.”  I did a little research and found the bible never explicitly tells us to abstain from these things.

But (there is always a but), I got involved with helping out in my church’s youth group and something strange happened.  All of the sudden, my behavior mattered.  How could I tell a teenager, who was only a few years younger than me, “You can’t go out and drink on the weekends,” and turn around and do it myself.  How could I ask them to stay away from addicting things, like cigarettes or chewing tobacco, and have a cigar.  I was trying to split hairs on what was acceptable and what wasn’t.  In my actions, I was worshiping myself.  I was placing my sovereign will above God’s.  In doing so, I could have been drawing youth away from God and toward their own self-warship.  

In Corinthians 6:12, Paul told us that “all things are lawful…but not all things are profitable.”  To the Ephesians he writes to “walk as wise men… and be subject to one another” (5:13-21).   He tells the Galatians not to use freedom as “an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (5:13).  And then we learn that the fruit of the spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (5:22-26).  So we should be living in a way that we are lifting others up, not causing them to turn away from His love.

But, we aren’t perfect.

Life Application  Jesus, thank you for my children, and the youth that you put in my life to see how important my actions are.  Thank you for your grace, and that I don’t have to live a perfect life.  But, help me to remember that I am always being a witness for your love and grace.  My actions, even when I think no one is looking, are your billboard.  Help me to remember my sin, and shortcomings, and have grace with others in ways that I also have received grace.  

-Tyler Galloway