The Great Context

There seems to have been an on-going debate within the Corinth church. To eat, or not to eat–that is the question. Is food offered to idols fair game for the dinner table now that we are free in Christ? Or, should it be rejected as we seek to serve the one true God and Him alone? And Paul spends a good portion of 1Corinthians (8:1 – 10:33) addressing the question.

For Paul it seems it wasn’t about showing the right allegiance among competing gods, for “there is no God but one”. But rather it was a matter of the heart, and of motive, and of conscience, and of caring for others. The knowledge of freedom was not to be an excuse to get all puffed up with an “I can do whatever I want” sort of attitude. Even if in their blood-bought liberty they had the “right” to such food, they should also recognize they had the liberty to give up their rights for the sake of others–especially those others who were being tripped up in their faith because of such displays of culinary freedom.

They were to guard against an arrogance that would tempt them to see their liberty in Christ as permission for license concerning things of the world. To drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons made no sense. To partake of the table of the Lord on Sunday morning but be at the table of demons on Friday night only runs the risk of provoking the Lord to jealousy. Uh, uh! Don’t do it, says Paul.

While something might be technically lawful, argues Paul, it might not be helpful. While it might be permissible, “not all things build up.” If one man’s liberty is another man’s stumbling block, then maybe the freeman in Christ should consider taking a pass on his liberty. “Let no one seek his own good,” writes Paul, “but the good of his neighbor” (10:24).

Kind of radical thinking. Sort of upside down in a culture where the mantra is often “pursue your own path.”

Live my life mindful of it’s impact on others? Abstain from perfectly good meat if it runs the risk of weakening the conscience of another? Really? Why would I do that?

Short answer: The great context.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

(1Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

Do all to the glory of God. Whatever you do–regardless of whether it’s considered sacred or secular, or whether it’s in private or in public, or whether it’s about feeding or fasting, or what you say or what you listen to, or who your with or who you choose not to be with–do it all to the glory of God. Whether it’s weeping or rejoicing, confidently walking a path or cautiously seeking the way, proclaiming great victory or healing after a heart-breaking defeat–all of it, do it for the glory of God.

That’s the great context for the believer, the over-arching umbrella for the follower of Christ. Whatever. All of it. Do life in such a way that the God whose Name we proclaim might be highly esteemed. That His love would be known because we love. His light might shine because we shine.

Not that we are anything in and of ourselves. Not that we are up to such a task in our own strength. But that we believe that what God has called us to do, He will enable us to do. If then we are to live all of life in this great context, then He will supply the power through His great abundance.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

(2Corinthians 4:6-7 ESV)

Oh, that whatever lies before us this day, we would go out mindful of the great context which should guide all that we do.

That by God’s grace we would seek to do all things for God’s glory.


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