Sunday, 26 October 2014
Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,1 Corinthians 10:32
The words of this verse are clear and explicit. In giving no offense, we are seeking the glory of God and thus honoring Him. The reason for this is obvious. If it is God’s will that none “should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), then our avoiding offense in others is in line with God’s will. Instead of chasing people away from Christ, we should be leading them to Christ. And to ensure that we don’t misunderstand or misapply the precept to one category of people and not to another, he gives the all-encompassing thought that we are to act in like manner to either “the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God.”
The Bible’s two main categories of people are Jews and Gentiles (represented here by the term “Greeks”). We are to have the same standard for both categories, not holding ill-will towards the unconverted Jews as so many do. They have the same need for Christ as do the Gentiles. And then, as an additional category, Paul speaks also of the “church of God.” In this, he has made a distinction between the unconverted (Jews and Greeks) and the converted (the church of God.)
Those in the church deserve the same care because there are differing levels of maturity. If offense is given to the weaker in the faith, it could cause them to stray from their faith. What a price to pay over something as trivial as eating a meal! It is our obligation to edify others, not tear them down.
Having noted that the words are clear and explicit, there is yet an obvious qualification which needs to be addressed. It is true that we are to “give no offense,” but this is true in indifferent matters. We are never to forsake proper doctrine at the expense of “offense.” Tolerance quickly becomes the death knell for the sound Christian church. As soon as “tolerance” becomes of primary importance, doctrine can no longer be adhered to in a proper way. Thus, the church very rapidly becomes no church at all. The truths contained in the Bible are firm, fixed, and unchanging. Be ready to stand on biblical truth, even at the expense of offending others who are belligerent against it.
Life application: If your church won’t stand on the truth of the Bible, it will quickly be no true church at all. An example of this is John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Either that is true or it isn’t. It is highly offensive to state to an unbeliever who rejects Jesus that they will never enter heaven’s gates, but instead are destined for hell. However, Jesus has spoken and the Bible has recorded His words. If a church will not proclaim this simple truth, it is not a true church at all. Stand on the Bible, be firm and fixed in your resolve to proclaim Christ, and be willing to take whatever abuse and insults will come your way because of it.
Fixed and unchanging is the word of God
It proclaims a message which must be adhered to
Let us stand on its truths while in this life we trod
Are you also willing this to do?
What is more important than obedience to the Lord?
What profit is gaining the world and yet losing your soul?
And so be willing to accept the truth of God’s word
Fear not in obedience, for He is in control
He will exalt you for your faithful adherence to His book
And will reward you for your willingness to proclaim it
When you look back on the noble path that you took
You will be honored that to His word you did submit
Heavenly Father, it seems like every day people get more confused about Your word. The world will find any and every reason to fight against its truths or to manipulate them so that evil rather than good is what they declare. Things once thought perverse are proclaimed as if they were Your will. Help me to stand firm on the truth of Your word and to never compromise pure, right, and holy doctrine – even if it means offense to others. I ask this that You will be glorified as is right and proper. Amen.