It’s Gray Out
1 Corinthians 10:14-33
In the home stretch of Paul’s three chapter discussion on Christian liberty he provides a few more examples for application, but then zooms out to discuss this issue at a macro-level.
Paul begins this section by turning back to the original topic- eating food sacrificed to idols. He gives advice in three different scenarios: meat in the pagan temple (10:14-22), meat in the marketplace (10:25-26), and meat in the home (10:27-30).
In the first scenario Paul warns his readers of the danger of association. Association with idolatry often moves from participation (it won’t hurt to try), to obligation (it now has a foothold), to ruination (divided loyalties between God and demons). Because of the inherent sin within this scenario, it isn't a question of exercising Christian freedom- to try and label it as such leads to destruction.
In both the second and third scenarios Paul speaks to his readers about consideration. The principle of freedom is to always be regulated by love for others. Eating meat bought in the marketplace or served in someone’s home was perfectly fine- no questions asked. A believer did not need to alter his convictions regarding a gray area, however he should alter his behavior when in a weaker brother’s presence.
Finally, Paul concludes this passage with a summation (10:31-33). In the end, what’s the bottom line when it comes to gray areas? Simply put, one should strive to follow what Jesus declared in the Gospels- love God and love others.
In conclusion, let’s return to Paul’s four step grid that believers can apply to areas of liberty (notice the final two steps are from this week’s passage):
- Does it own me? (6:12)
- Does it offend others? (8:12-13)
- Does it build others up? (10:23)
- Does it glorify God? (10:31)
When it comes to Christian liberty, what’s the wise thing to do for the good of others and for the glory of God?
- Can you think of some scenarios like Paul described in 10:27, where you are invited by an unbeliever to participate in a “gray area” situation? How would you respond? How should you respond?
- How would you describe what it means to do all for “the glory of God?” What does this practically look like in your life?
- As you review the recent messages from 1 Corinthians 8-10 on freedom in Christ, what has been most helpful? In what practical ways will a better understanding of “freedom in Christ” be exhibited in your life?