Liberty or Distraction?

I have often heard the verse, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). I love this verse because it inspires me to think of God as I do things, and to aspire to bring Him glory through all I do and say. This includes things I allow to pass by my lips. This would include not being a glutton, and not using harmful drugs and alcohol. But as I have been reading through the book of 1 Corinthians, I got this verse in more context this morning. It’s written in the context of Christian liberty. It goes beyond us making sure we are doing what is right in our own lives, such as our own personal health. It addresses us doing all to the glory of God in order to not offend others and thus lead them to Christ.

The preceding verses talk about the fact that we can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils, in the context of sacrifices to devils. The Apostle Paul continues to say that all things are lawful for him, such as eating meat that was offered to idols, but not all things are expedient, or best to do under the circumstances. They may not edify, and while you’re not necessarily doing anything wrong in doing it, whatever it may be, it may cause others to struggle in their faith. Are we serving God or the devil? Let’s identify where our commitment lies. Whose kingdom are we trying to increase?

He goes on to say, for example, that if you eat over someone’s house who is not a believer in Christ, and they serve you meat offered to idols, eat it and be gracious so you don’t offend them: “asking no question for conscience sake” (vs. 27). However, if someone is there and points out it was offered to idols (apparently this bothers the person who mentioned it), don’t eat it “for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake.”

He goes on to clarify whose conscience he is speaking of. “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?” In other words, “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” as he says in vs. 26 and again in vs. 28. He is allowed to eat meat, as part of God’s creation and food chain. Why should he limit his freedom to eat what he wants based on another man’s conscience? He is under grace, and thankful for all the Lord has given him on this earth to partake.

Here it comes in our key verse, along with the rest of the answer to this question of why should he limit his freedom for others: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many…” WHY? “…that they may be saved” (vs. 31-33).

It is a great reminder for me to watch my testimony, remembering that our ultimate goal is to glorify the Lord with our lives, and part of that commitment applies to our interactions with and influence upon others. We have a duty out of our love and devotion for our Lord to care about the misunderstandings that may occur from our actions. How awful if someone didn’t become a believer in Christ because we were selfish and were just thinking about our own desires. We cannot control everyone’s perceptions, but the idea is that if we are around those who will be offended in Christ because of something we do, perhaps a cultural boundary, we should respect it.

May God help us to live our lives with respect toward others, and illuminate love from our hearts that will show the world through us how great our God really is. He cares for all and desires all to come to Him for salvation and spiritual growth, and we should avoid being a distraction.

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