Decisions, Decisions Part 3
Rob Willey – Senior Pastor, Harvest Davenport, Iowa
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” 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. 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— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? - 1 Corinthians 10:25-29
We have been exploring Paul’s teaching regarding decisions, and have found that we should ask if they are helpful, constructive, and other-oriented. Now, we’re ready to look at questions 4 and 5.
4. Is it okay? (v25-27, 29b-30)
When making decisions, this is one of the most fundamental questions to ask—is it okay? Is the thing being considered acceptable or allowable? Because if it is, it can be done. We’re free in Christ just like the Corinthian believers. For instance, some of the meat sold in their market was used for demonic idol worship in the temples. And Paul’s like, that’s okay. Meat is meat, and food is food, no matter how it’s been used.
But this applies to far more than just food. If something is of the Lord and not prohibited by a scriptural principle, it’s okay to do, despite the fact that it’s been twisted and associated with sin. Sinful associations don’t permanently taint that which comes directly from the hand or heart of God. Which is why Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:4-5—Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. If it’s set apart by God’s spoken Word to create it or bless it in the first place, and it’s redeemed by our prayers of thanks—then it’s okay. The key is asking the question before you do it.
5. Is it harmful? (v28-29a)
Bottom line? If it’s physically harmful, don’t do it. And the same goes for emotional harm that’s inflicted by what you say, and spiritual harm by what you do—which is what Paul’s getting at in v28. After saying we’re free to eat meat used in sacrifices, he then writes, 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—I do not mean your conscience, but his.
He seems to be referring to someone at the dinner table, or someone who knows you’re at the table—and has a problem, a spiritual issue, with eating food offered to idols. Whether you eat it or they do, if it violates their conscience, if it makes them feel as though they’re doing something wrong, or are a part of something that’s wrong—you shouldn’t do it. It’s that simple.
When have I done something that was okay for me, but totally wrong for who I was with?
What can make me more sensitive to what might cause another to stumble? Will I take the time to know that information?
Dear Father, I love how You care so much about each individual. So much so that You want Your children to be as considerate about sin issues as You are. But Father, I am so insensitive at times, I don’t even know what will cause another to stumble, or what struggles they may have. Help me to see those around me as You do. In Jesus' name, Amen.