Sacrifice Your Freedom

Just so everybody knows…I stole ALL of these thoughts from my older and wiser brother (Brooks Elliott), and he’ll probably write about it in a book someday. BUT, I have his permission to use it for this blog!
When you read 1 Corinthians 10:31, what do you think of? In this verse, Paul says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Most of us use this verse out of context. Although I think there is some truth to the way we use it- to give God the glory no matter what you’re doing, that’s not exactly what Paul is saying here. In order to get the full context of this verse, we have to go back to chapter 8 where Paul begins his discussion about food sacrificed to idols. Throughout the next 2 chapters, Paul tells his readers (that are Christians) to give up some of their liberties/freedom that they have in Christ, if those things are going to cause someone else to stumble as they watch those Christians live life. In his example of food that is sacrificed to idols, Paul notes that as Christ followers, that particular food is no different than any other food, because we believe that there is no God but one. (Which means “idols” are just pieces of wood/material with no divine value.) However, he tells the members of the Corinthian church (and anyone else that follows Christ) not to eat it. The reason: “Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.” (1 Corinthians 8:7)
So, it is your job, if you are a follower of Christ to “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. (1 Corinthians 8:9-12)
Paul goes on to say, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1 Corinthians 9:19) Paul is doing EXACTLY what Christ calls us to do in John 15 when he says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…. This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:13, 17).
All of this isn’t a black and white picture of what’s right and wrong. Paul even says,  “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23) He is telling us that when it comes to setting an example, our decisions ought to be rooted in our love for God and our love for others. We want people to love God and experience relationship with Him, right? So when he says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” in verse 31 of 1 Corinthians 10, he is talking about it in the context of protecting other people’s “consciences”!
Are you living in such a way that other people are drawn to Jesus? Or are there things you’re doing that are causing other people to stumble/sin as they watch you…even if it’s not an issue of sin for you? Sometimes we need to give up those freedoms. We need to lay down our lives for our friends. Even when it’s inconvenient for us. I’d challenge you to examine your life with this call in mind.
Live Jesus today!
Author: Whitney Elliott

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