March 19, Sunday

The AMI QT Devotionals from March 13-20 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of OTR in Cincinnati.  Jason, a graduate of UC San Diego (B.S.) and Westminster Theological Seminary in California (M.Div.), is married to Jessica, and they have two young children: Jonah and Lily. 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR TODAY

To Eat or Not To Eat

1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 (ESV)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. [24] Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. [25] Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. [26] For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” [27] If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. [28] But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—[29] I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? [30] If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

[31] So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. [32] Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, [33] just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.  [4:1] Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

In Living Water’s after-school program, one of our most popular songs has a refrain that goes: “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me – way beyond the blue.”  While this song is catchy and fun, I’m not sure what that line is getting at.  When we like a song or a quote but we’re uncertain as to what it means, we tend to fill in the blanks ourselves.  Sometimes we do this to Scripture.

I have heard (and probably given) many teachings on 1 Corinthians 10:31 (“whether you eat or drink…do all to the glory of God”) and 11:1 (“be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”).  These are amazingly inspiring words, but I’ve often felt that they were sort of vague in regards to application.  This is probably because I was reading these verses out of context.

Paul is making a very clear point.  In v. 25-27, Paul instructs believers not to raise any question when sharing a meal with their host. This is so that believers can enjoy the meat as well as not trouble their unbelieving host.  In v. 28-29, Paul then teaches believers to refrain from eating the same meat if it bothers the conscience of another person (either another guest, an unbeliever, who assumes Christians should not eat the meat offered to idols, or a believing guest with a weak conscience).  Again, the Christian’s goal is to avoid troubling the other person.  Therefore, the decision of whether to eat/drink or not is a battle between the believer’s freedom and another’s conscience.  The decision is decided by the same principle: do what troubles the other person least.  This glorifies God (v. 31).

Christians are called to “give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God” (v. 32).  This does not mean that Christians are to be people-pleasers.  No, we are people willing to surrender our own advantage that many might be saved.  We are not interested in avoiding conflict but in the eternal salvation of all peoples for the glory of God.

This was the concern and practice of the apostle Paul, and according to him and all Scriptures, this was and is the concern and practice of the Lord Jesus Christ (11:1).

Brothers and Sisters, may God reveal to us which freedom and preference hinder our witness so that we may freely surrender them.

Prayer: Oh Lord, forgive me, for I often trouble others for my own benefit.  Open my eyes to the beauty of Your Son that I may be free to seek the advantage of others unto their salvation.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 8

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