Food for thought (1 Corinthians 8)

How does what I do, say, prioritise affect other believers -especially those who are younger/more immature/struggling? Is what we do and say motivated by love? (v 1-3)

The big question the Corinthians had was about food sacrificed to idols. The issue was that the pagan temples functioned as the slaughter house/butchers – providing meat which was then sold in the market meaning you were very likely to be eating meat previously offered to idols wherever you ate. Secondly they acted as function rooms or restaurants where people were eating, celebrating, socialising in the presence of the gods.

This means that you probably couldn’t avoid eating meat that had first been offered to idols – unless you became vegetarian

BUT … you could avoid eating at the temple

The underpinning issue = The Corinthians view of “Knowledge” as a gift

–          Puffed up – a cause of pride, believing they knew everything -special privileged revelation.

–          See it as the source of spiritual maturity -building up

Paul says “No – in fact if you think you are already there, then you show how little you do know of God’s revelation.   The true way is love. Love builds up because it seeks to encourage, help, care

Love starts with our relationship with God -we love him and he knows us.  What is my attitude to other believers, to church, to life decisions.

We can operate with two frames of reference

“What do I get out of it?”

Or:

“What does this do for God’s people?”

Believers should operate under the second one.

So a good test when we go away from the church gathering is: do I leave the service with a greater sense of loving God and loving others. Am I better equipped to help, encourage, serve?  Am I better equipped to witness?

And in my life, do I prioritise love or knowledge.

  1. Is what we do and say rooted in a proper belief in God’s goodness and greatness (v 4-8)

What we believe affects how we live. In Corinth, lots of people came from idol worshipping background. This led to a lot of superstition. This may have stayed with some of the believers into the church. Would eating idol meat bring them back under the influence of the gods? Would it make God angry with them?

So we have a reminder. Idols are nothing. They have no power (v 4-5) Instead, there is one true God. We were made for him and by him. Note the Trinitarian formula here. Paul takes the shema from Deuteronomy 6 and shows that Christ fits firmly within it. There is one God and there is one Lord. We were made by God through Christ for Christ. We belong to him. We know God the Father through God the Son.

This is important. We want to help people see, know and believe that their true security/value/ salvation is in Christ. We want people to know that they do not need to fear idols, spirits – or any other power including the state, politicians, work, money, the future etc.

But, does what we do and say communicate this? You see the Corinthians who had knowledge knew all of this. In fact, this was their logic for justifying their right to eat idol meat at the temples. They were free in Christ, the idols were nothing so they could eat what they wanted where they wanted.

The problem was that by eating at the temples they were causing confusion.  Other believers were being led into areas that hurt their consciences. And also it was making “freedom” their god (see last week’s talk).  It betrayed a lack of rooted faith in the one God.

Remember legalism and licence are not the answer. Both of these things tell others that my confidence isn’t really in The Father, my trust isn’t really in Jesus. I put me first.

  1. Is what I’m saying and doing leading to others being built up and encouraged in Christ? (v10-13)

What effect am I having? The Corinthian priority of liberty caused others to stumble, led to pain, sin, destruction. This meant that their action was sin against Christ.

So are my actions helping or hindering others? –What’s the fruit?  Mature believers should be leading others to faith, helping others to grow in their faith, multiplying gifts and ministries.  This is the challenge.

Conclusion

  1. How does your life measure up against those questions?
  2. How can we as a church help and equip you to love and serve more?

And for those who have placed hope/fear in “idols”, literal or metaphorical – a message of hope and liberation. Put your trust in Jesus find in him true freedom.

 

 

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