Monday, 27 October 2014
…just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:33
In this paragraph, Paul has noted that everything we do should be to the glory of God and that we are to give no offence in the process. As shown though, that is concerning issues of conscience, not issues of doctrine. We are never asked to do something which will be at the expense of upholding right doctrine. But in those areas where conscience is an over-arching concern – be it “to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” we should be willing to look to the example set before us; that of Christ who “did not please Himself” (Romans 15:3).
With Christ as our ultimate example, Paul notes that he had attempted to be like-minded and that we could use his example. And so he notes “just as I also please all men in all things.” Why would Paul note himself as an example, rather than stating it as he did in Romans 15:3? The answer is that Christ is an overall example to those who would follow Him. He is the Head of the church and the fulfillment of Scripture. But though He is the first example to the church, Paul is an example within the church. In other words, Paul’s ministry included outreach to those outside the church for evangelism and those inside the church for doctrine and edification.
Therefore, there is nothing wrong when he uses himself as an example. He is showing how to act under the Headship of Christ and he is doing it to please “all men in all things.” In fact, he says “not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many.” Rather than accepting the liberties that he had been granted in Christ, he was willing to forego the exercise of them and not tread on the conscience of another. He could have enjoyed certain meats, but he would abstain if it were to harm another’s conscience. To him, finding joy in the Lord was more pleasing than finding joy in a banquet.
In all things, his hope was to bring about a great knowledge of Christ in others so “that they may be saved.” This was his highest hope for all whom he met. If he could lead them to Christ, even if it meant doing so at the expense of his personal liberties, then to him it would have been worth it. Matthew Poole sums up this thought for the well-grounded believer. Yes, Christians have great liberty in Christ, but “… notwithstanding that liberty, yet they ought to have respect to the spiritual good and salvation of others, and to do that part which their judgments inform them will be, as least to the spiritual damage and detriment, so most to the spiritual good and profit, of the souls of others with whom they converse.”
Life application: What is the value of another person’s salvation? What is the value of another person’s proper doctrine? Are we willing destroy the chance of people coming to Christ simply because we “can” do something? Or would it be more prudent to stop and consider if our actions, though allowable, might be detrimental towards another person. We have been left here not to indulge ourselves in our freedoms in Christ, but to be examples to lead others to Christ.
O God, there are those times where I could really kick myself for having done something stupid which might make others question my faith in You. What kind of an example am I of the title “Christian” when I demonstrate my failings in front of them? Help me to consider this at all times and to do those things which will make others want to seek You, not run from You because I have brought dishonor on Your great name. Help me in this Lord. Amen.