Friday, 24 October 2014
But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? 1 Corinthians 10:30
Paul has been referring to eating or not eating meat based on conscience, not personal conscience, but the conscience of another. If they are going to be negatively affected in their understanding of the work of Christ, then refraining from eating is the proper course to take. And yet, in the last verse he closed with, “For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?” The answer is that it should not be so judged. We have liberties and we are free to exercise them, knowing that the Lord has accepted us.
And so we have two sides to the coin presented. The first is that of not harming another’s conscience and the second is that we should be firm and fixed in our beliefs. In regards to that second premise, he says, “But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?” He indicates that the food is acceptable, he has given thanks to the Lord for it, and nobody should charge him with wrongdoing when he has done nothing wrong. The food should be eaten without further anxiety. The Pulpit Commentary does a good job of explaining this –
“He desiderated more considerateness and self denial on the one side; and on the other, a more robust and instructed faith, he would always tolerate the scruples of the weak, but would not suffer either weakness or strength to develop itself into a vexatious tyranny.”
In other words, Paul was one to acknowledge that there are weak believers or uninformed non-believers that needed to be accommodated, but there are also contrarians that will perpetually nitpick another person to the point where they subjugate them to their every whim. They will do this just for the sake of being bossy or demonstrating a “holier than thou” attitude. One must be discerning and not let such people ruin the joy we have in the Lord or rob us of our freedoms.
In everything, we are to consider our standing in Christ and work as best as we can within that position. It is a precept that he laid out in Romans 14 and which he is reiterating to the Corinthians in his letter to them. Here are his words to those in Rome –
“Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Romans 14:16-18
Life application: It is our duty to be considerate to those around us who are truly weaker in the faith and who lack in the knowledge of the Lord. However, it is also our responsibility to not let people who willingly act in a contrary manner toward our freedoms in Christ rob us of our joy. If someone is shown the truth of a matter, such as that all foods are acceptable, and they still charge you with wrongdoing, then ignore them. Enjoy your lobster and let them eat peas.
Lord God, everyday the news seems to get worse and worse. It seems that bad news and uncertainty prevail. There is anxiety and there is confusion everywhere. And yet, Your book is written and it says that there is good news ahead for those who put their trust in You. I will not be shaken in my faith even if the sky falls and the earth quakes. In You I have peace, contentment, and more than abundant joy. In You I have Christ my Lord. No worries here! Amen.