1 Corinthians 10:24-29a

In 1 Corinthians 10:24-29a Paul continues to teach them about the impact of eating meat offered to idols. The Corinthian Christians asked the question “What’s the harm to me” as they couldn’t understand what the big deal was. But they did not consider how their actions harmed those around them. Just because something is fine for you does not mean you should do it. Your own “rights” or what you know to be permitted for yourself are not the standards by which you should judge another person’s behavior. You must consider what is the loving thing to do towards your brothers and sisters in Jesus. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” That is how we love one another.

Paul goes on to tell the church to eat whatever is sold in the market. Seems like a contradiction to what he has just told them. But the reality is that there is nothing wrong with the meat – it is the fellowship with the demon idols that needs to be avoided, not the meat itself. “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” When the meat was removed from the circumstances of the idols and worship of those idols, the meat was simply that – something that God had created. It was not bad, just the environment of pagan worship. “For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

Paul goes on to instruct the Corinth believers to enjoy a meal if they are invited to someone’s house for dinner. There doesn’t need to be a series of questions to determine the source of the food they were eating. The cow belonged to the Lord when it was on the hoof, and it belongs to the Lord now that it is on the barbecue! If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” The instruction is to go and enjoy the meal, and don’t get into a debate about where the meat came from.

There is a big difference between this scenario and that of sitting in a pagan restaurant near the idols having a meal of fellowship in that environment. Paul’s message here is to be sensitive to those you are with, be their believers or non-believers. Each will have their own view on the meat situation, and if it undermines their thinking, we need to be careful not to violate their conscience. “But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience – I do not mean your conscience, but his.”  If I can eat with a clear conscience, and offend no one else’s conscience, things should be good. We need to have liberty within the limits of love for those around us.

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