#545 (25/2/22) LOVING SACRIFICE
‘Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.’ (1 Corinthians 7:13)
Paul is teaching them that although they were free to eat meat (that had been sacrificed to idols) they were to do so carefully; they should refrain from if it misled a non-Christian into thinking that idol worship was okay or if a weaker Christian would be tempted to return to their old life in idolatry. Paul speaks of his willingness to never eat such meat again if this would protect, love and build the faith of others. He was willing to sacrifice his pleasures and freedoms for the good of the church family. In Romans Paul writes something similar,
‘Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.’ (Romans 14:19-21)
It's not always easy to discern what the loving thing to do is. We will get it wrong on occasion. Part of this lifestyle must include a willingness to say sorry when we offend. The life of love is hard. Paul encourages us to ‘make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.’ This requires that we search God’s word, pray and think as we relate.
We are warned that we can ‘destroy the work of God for the sake of food’. We can ‘make them fall’. We can destroy and trip up God’s people in many major and minor ways. Let’s finish by reflecting on Paul’s words from Philippians,
‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ (Philippians 2:3-4)
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians.
i) CHRISTIANS ARE BUILDERS (8:1-3)
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (8:1-3)
Many at Corinth felt that they were free to eat meat sacrificed to idols and attend gatherings in their temples. These Christians were tempting those who have come out of an idol-worshipping background to go back to their old attitudes. Paul teaches them that love builds up. True Christians - those 'known by God' - build others up. All Christians are builders!
ii) LOVE BUILDS THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE
‘So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.’ (1 Corinthians 8:5-8)
As Christians, the Corinthian church worshipped the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) who is the true God. No idol compares to Him. However, if they ate idol meat and are seen to be worshipping in their temples, weaker Christians would assume that it was okay to worship God and idols. How we use our liberty can be dangerous to others, particularly the vulnerable.
iii) LOVE IS CAREFUL NOT TO TEAR DOWN
‘Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.' (1 Corinthians 8:9-12)
These so called maturer and more knowledgable Christians were not being careful and were being a stumbling block to weaker Christians. They were destroying their faith by teaching, through their actions, that idolotry and Christianity were compatible.
iv) THEREFORE - HOW CAN I LOVE AND BUILD OTHERS UP?
‘Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.’ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)