Wednesday, 22 October 2014
But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” 1 Corinthians 10:28
Paul just got done telling the Corinthians that if they were invited to a meal by a non-believer and wanted to go, that they should feel free to eat anything set before them and to not ask questions about it. It is merely food and it is to be received as such. However, he now qualifies that, beginning with the word “but.” This is to show that there are exceptions to how we conduct ourselves. And so he begins with “But if anyone says to you…” Most scholars interpret this to be speaking of a weak Christian who is making the statement. That could be true, but the speaker isn’t identified and if he is just any attendee at the meal, then how could this be known?
Instead, it could be anyone at the meal, the host, a family member, a servant, or another Christian. The passage is left vague enough to show us that regardless of who speaks, the principle he will convey will remain true. And so, if such a person says, “This was offered to idols,” then Paul’s instructions are “do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake.”
What this means is that the person who speaks, be it the host or a weak Christian or anyone else, may be harmed by your consumption of the food. If it is a non-believer, they may feel that to you Jesus must be just another “god.” They will not come to understand your conviction that Jesus is truly Lord of all. If it is a weak believer, then their conscience toward Christ may also be harmed. They may question how the Lord, upon whom they called, is to be considered on par with the idol to whom the meat was sacrificed. Remember from earlier in chapter 10 that this is what Paul was referring to. People are associated with the idol when they participate in the sacrifice of the idol.
Because of this perception, we are not to eat meat which has been so identified “for conscience’ sake.” Paul will show in the coming verse that that he is not worried about the conscience of the well-grounded believer, but of someone who doesn’t understand our freedom in Christ. In advance of that, he reaffirms that “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” This is an undeniable truth that the well-grounded believer can attest to. Because of this, his conscience is undefiled by what he eats. However, his actions in the eyes of others may be misunderstood.
Life application: If you understand that Christ alone is Lord, then you have the freedom to enjoy the world which He is Lord of. But such freedom comes with responsibility towards others who may be weak in their faith. It is not acceptable to exercise your freedoms while harming others in the process.
Lord God, it is so wonderful to know that the world is Yours, including all that it contains. You have complete control over it and everything is occurring as it should. When I see the many terrifying things which are happening around me, I have the assurance that it is temporary and I have the confidence that You have it all under control. I shall not fear what comes my way because I have my hope and trust in You. Amen.