1 Corinthians 8:1-13 – What’s Your Idol Meat?

Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

barbequed meat on a skewer

Paul deals here with another burning question on the minds of Corinthians dealing with the problem of food sacrificed to idols. I can’t say that this is something I’ve ever thought of, and I’m pretty sure it’s a new one for you, too. But taken in context, it was a very real problem in Paul’s day. The concept applied here can speak to other issues we may be facing.

While the Corinthian’s question was specific about food, Paul wants them to look deeper. Paul wants them to understand that God isn’t going to smite us if we eat such food. “It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do.” It comes down to “how does our behavior affect others?”

As educated Christians, we have knowledge. As Paul says, “There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.”  We know this to be true, but not everyone does. When we know and trust these statements, we realize this food offered to idols has no power at all. It’s just food.

Yet, knowledge is defective if it fails to build up the community in love. If Christians were to eat this food and be seen by others who don’t understand or fully accept that there is only one God, it might cause them to stumble in their faith journey. It is up to us to set a good example for those young Christians and not cause confusion. That certainly would not be loving behavior.

This is why Paul says, “But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” People are watching. This makes me think of our time working with alcoholics and addicts in our recovery ministry. We would be careful not drink alcoholic beverages when we were in the company of those friends. We didn’t want them to stumble because they saw us enjoying a cocktail.

Think about how your actions build up other believers. Do you ever think about what other people see when they look at you? Are you being a good reflection of God’s love? I like the line, “But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.” Not only do I want people to see Jesus living in me, but I also want God to recognize me. Don’t you?

What behaviors might you need to change to build up your community of believers?

praying hands looking up

Let’s pray …
Heavenly Father, I thank you for how your word continues to reveal new truths to me. Even though I can’t think of any idol worship food I’ve been offered recently, I do know there are distractions that keep me and others focused on the wrong thing. You are the one true God, and I love you. Forgive me when I focus on things that are not building up the kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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