August 29, 2021 – 1 Corinthians 8,9

Paul begins chapter 8: “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that all of us ‘possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up” (8:1). About those idols: they are nothing. They are not gods. As much as their makers wish them to be gods, they are nothing but wood and stone, yet, “there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (8:6).

The question then arises: Should a believer eat food that has been dedicated to idols? Paul’s response: Go ahead, unless it offends and becomes a stumbling block to a weaker brother who, through previous association with idols, finds himself struggling with such things. In short, whether in eating or drinking or whatever, though we have freedoms and rights, we do not insist on those if in doing so we offend and weaken a fellow believer.

So, for the sake of a weaker believer, we should not demand our rights and freedoms. In chapter 9, Paul points to himself as an example. He is an apostle. He had seen Jesus himself. He was instrumental in the Corinthians coming to the gospel. He has not made use of any of his rights as apostle in order to secure provisions for himself. This leaves him free to preach the gospel with no strings attached, and this to both Jews and Gentiles. That is, Paul is free simply to tell the truth. He is beholden to no one. That’s a good place to be, that is, not promoting ourselves but caring for others and for the gospel.

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,

Live in me from day to day,

By his love and pow'r controlling

All I do and say. -- Kate B. Wilkinson (1925)

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