Paul’s letter to the Corinthians continues to give examples of the difficulties the converts in Corinth were experiencing in turning to a life that was so different, so foreign to their previous way of life in worshipping idols. At the same time, the Apostle does not see it being helpful, indeed of any value at all, for them to have a new set of rules to follow and keep – such as we see in some ‘Christian’ organisations today.
Today’s chapter (10) looks in particular at the question of meat that had been offered to idols. Now this does not affect us in any way today, but the underlying principles are interesting. Most meat on sale came from sacrifices made in pagan temples. Many saw something special in such meat. We have encountered this in India with offerings, such as coconuts taken into a Hindu Temple, sprinkled with holy water, and thus having a special value in the eyes of worshippers – and they can (and some do) take them away and sell them at a profit.
Paul makes the point, “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the grounds of conscience. For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof (that is, everything in it)” [v.25,26] The converts to Christ having been freed from pagan rituals, did not all fully realize this.
In following Christ today we must make sure we do not create rituals or rules for ourselves and others as to what we should or should not do, such as things we eat or drink, in the belief that by such means we become more ‘holy’ in the sight of God. Paul brings his reasoning to a climax by saying, “If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” [v.30,31]
Paul saw nothing wrong with eating meat that had been offered to an idol, but some were denouncing him for doing this. He was however, conscious of the need to act differently if an unbeliever “invites you to dinner” and you accept and the unbeliever makes the point that the meat you are about to eat has been “offered in sacrifice”. Paul says “then do not eat it.” [v.28] This is a means of making a point to an unbeliever; a means of challenging his convictions in the reality of the idol.
The essential point is to live and act so that our lives are a witness “to the glory of God” and that by our actions, as well as our words we “give no offense” [v.32]. Paul sums it up by saying, “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” [v.33] Let us recognise the ways in which we can follow that principle today.
By Bro D.Caudery
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