1 Corinthians 10:23-33 NKJV
23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”
27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. 28 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.” 29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 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.
Not all the meat sacrificed to idols was consumed. Some of it made its way to the Corinthian markets. Some of it was taken home by the participants. While Christians were not to partake in the idolatrous worship and sacrifices, whether for cultural or family reasons, they were to have clear consciences when it came to what they bought at market or what a dinner host served them. It was no concern of theirs whether the brisket on sale had been sacrificed to an idol. They shouldn’t worry as to whether the tenderloin on their host’s table had been part of a idol sacrifice. After all, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4).
The only time a Christian was to politely decline was if another Christian’s conscience was concerned with the meat’s point of origin. Even though all things that do not violate God’s commandments are lawful for the Christian, the Christian does not live to himself alone. Christians are part of Christ’s body—the Church—and therefore live for the sake of others. Christians have freedom in areas in which God has not spoken, but they are also the servants of their fellow believer. Paul reminds us of this when he writes, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being” (24). If a brother or sister in Christ’s conscience is burdened by our use of Christian freedom, then it the duty of love to abstain for their sake. Paul himself could write in 9:22, “To the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak.” We are free in matters in which God has neither commanded or forbidden, but we must use our freedom lovingly so as not to offend our brother but win him over instead and strengthen him in his understanding. Our freedom must be tempered with love that would rather not use our freedom than harm the conscience of our brother in Christ.
Let us pray: You have given us liberty, O Lord, in many things of this life. Increase our love for one another, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we do not use the things of this world to our brother’s detriment, but for his profit and Your glory. Amen.