August 11, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (1 Corinthians 10)

Submitted by John V. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

  • What reason does Paul give for why it is okay to eat anything sold in the meat market?

Paul teaches that it would be ok to eat anything sold in the market because “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” implying that there is nothing wrong or impure about God’s creation, i.e. the animals used for food, vegetables, fruits & grains.  Even if food brought to the market had been offered in sacrifice to idols, it doesn’t change the fact that it still belongs to God.

  • What reason does Paul give for why a Christian should not eat meat if someone tells him that the meat was offered in sacrifice?

Paul advises that in a situation where another believer would think it sinful (albeit erroneously) to eat meat that had been offered in sacrifice, it would be best to refrain from eating that meat for the sake of that believer who might draw from it the wrong conclusion.

  • What is the difference?

The difference in the two responses has to do with how one’s actions affect others, and in particular how one’s own actions could edify or harm others.  In this case, even though there is nothing wrong with eating food that had been sacrificed to idols, it wouldn’t be the loving to do so if by doing so you end up confusing another believer about what is right & wrong, or worse causing him to sin.

  • What does it mean to do everything for the glory of God based on the lesson about what to eat and what not to eat?

This passage about what to eat and what not to eat shows us that in the business of life we are going to encounter many situations where there might not be explicit rules laid out which tell us exactly what we can or cannot do.  At the same time, it teaches us that the consequences of what we choose do have significant bearing on others’ understanding of and relationship to God.  Doing everything for the glory of God then means that in all situations I should practice in my life denying my rights in order to keep others from stumbling, or to draw them closer to God.  It is not a matter of being able to assert my rights in every situation, but rather about conducting myself in a way that will draw others closer to God.

  • How does doing things for the glory of God change all that I do (e.g. working, studying, serving, etc.)?

Doing things for the glory of God changes me from being a person focused satisfying my own needs and desires to a person who is other-centered.  It means that I live a life under God’s ownership; I cannot prioritize my own career, my family and worries over status and how others view me over my calling to be a disciple and ambassador of the gospel.  In serving God, I’m learning more and more each day, that what glorifies and honors God is learning to relate to people in truth and love.  So where in the past I would avoid awkward or uncomfortable situations, I now know that I am obligated to speak truthfully in love.  Doing things for the glory of God means that my life is no longer lived to satisfy my own desires and interests, but God’s.  Ultimately, I think Apostle Paul puts it well in v.33 when he says about the way he conducts himself “…not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.”

1 Corinthians 10:32-33

  • What would Apostle Paul’s life have looked like, given that he tried to “please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved”?  How does his lifestyle compare with the modern day call to be true to my desires, and to seek personal happiness through seeking to please myself?

The things that would befall most people do not distract Apostle Paul.  He doesn’t spend his time fretting about how to get comfortable in life or how to satisfy his own interests or worrying about what people think about him.  Instead, his life was filled with people whose lives he has personally changed forever, because he made it a point to not seek his own advantage but the benefit of others, so that he might be able to share the gospel with them.  He has proven that he would deny himself any advantage for that opportunity.  The modern day notion that life is about prioritizing one’s desires, pleasure and happiness is ultimately a selfish life–one that has absolutely no lasting impact on the salvation of others.  It brings no honor or glory to God.   On the other hand, Apostle Paul, through his life of commitment to obeying God and to seeking the advantage of others over his own, was used by God to bring salvation to many lost people.  His life becomes a blessing to so many others, and had lasting impact.

 How can I seek the good of many, so that they may be saved?

I think the most important thing is that I continue to work on letting go of the many ways in which I still seek out my own advantage.   I seek my own advantage when I worry unnecessarily over my life; when my thoughts and my heart are cluttered with worries about my future, with money, with needless awareness of how others view me.  The more I concern myself with these things the less available I am for God and for others.  So, in order to seek the good of many, so that they may be saved, I must learn to entrust the worries of my life to God, to his goodness, trustworthiness and sovereignty so that I can shift focus away from myself and onto others.  Having said that, despite my own sins, God has given me the opportunity to serve in ministry.  He has allowed me to develop connections and relationships with many who are not Christians, including many who are genuinely seeking out the truths about Christianity.  I can seek their good by thinking about them and praying for them regularly.  As I think about them and pray for them, my heart grows in burden for them as I realize things about them I wouldn’t have had I not taken the time to think about them.  On top of that, as I pray for them God gives me insight into their lives, their outlook on life, their struggles, their worries, etc. so that I become more aware of their needs.

  Personal Prayer

Lord God, thank you for the wisdom of these words from Apostle Paul.  Thank you for the reminder to me that I don’t just make my decisions and choose my course of action based on my own desires and even on what my rights entitles me to.  Rather, you teach me God that as a Christian I am to deny myself, even my own rights in order to help draw others closer to you.  God this is what glorifies and honors you.  This is what pleases you.  Having said that, I recognize that it’s so much easier said than done, so I need your grace to help me live a life of self-sacrifice.  Teach me and show me daily how I can disadvantage myself so that I can become a better steward of the gospel. In Jesus name. Amen.


Submitted by Jon F. from Gracepoint Minneapolis Church

  • What reason does Paul give for why it is okay to eat anything sold in the meat market?

v. 26 “For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

First and foremost, everything that we have belongs to God. Because of this truth, Apostle Paul makes it clear that our approach shouldn’t be like having to walk on eggshells, but that our conscience can be freed of these things because God has appointed it for our use.

  • What reason does Paul give for why a Christian should not eat meat if someone tells him that the meat was offered in sacrifice?

Apostle Paul gives a scenario of a believer being invited for a meal. Before delving into his point, it is made clear that one should be free to eat out of courtesy regardless of what is put before that person. However, if someone makes the statement that the meat was offered in sacrifice, then the believer must abstain from eating the meat that was offered in sacrifice for that person’s conscience’s sake. In this way, Paul is imploring fellow believers to deny themselves their own free will for the sake of someone else.

  • What does it mean to do everything for the glory of God based on the lesson about what to eat and what not to eat?

Every situation and aspect of a Christian’s life is an opportunity for us to bring glory to God. In many ways, our lives are under the microscope of unbelievers and believers alike. Even for something like what to eat and what not to eat, which seems so miniscule compared to other bigger and more meaningful issues, it should still be seen as an opportunity. Rather than making it about the wrongs and rights of what to eat, the main point that is made is how do our actions as Christians impinge on others or skew their views of Christianity? The trait of a believer being able to deny themselves the freedom they have been granted for the sake of someone else is one that is valued by Apostle Paul, and should be valued by all. There are a lot of things that the Bible does not explicitly say we can or cannot do, but what we are told to do is uphold the image of Christ, and may everything we do be done for the glory of God. That charge should give us the guidelines that we need to apply to all facets of our life.

  • How does doing things for the glory of God change all that I do (e.g. working, studying, serving, etc.)?

Doing things for the glory of God means that there will be many occasions in which I will need to deny myself my own freedom for the sake of others. That my actions and how I use my time be to my neighbor’s advantage, and that it does not hinder their faith and salvation. My default mode that I need break out of is to think about how I would benefit from a situation or what I can get out of it, but if I want to truly edify God in all that I do, I need to care for those that God has placed in my life by not causing them to stumble. Especially in for our ministry where there are many Christians, seekers, students that may have gone to church in the past but stopped, and new Christians alike, along with the fact that we live in such close community, I need to put honoring God and valuing the lives of others before my own rights and privileges. A common topic that comes up especially in the college environment is drinking. The Bible doesn’t explicitly say we can’t, and when one is of age then it is legally okay to do so. But how will this act affect the lives of the freshmen that we are reaching out to, or the students who may have just recently became a Christian? It can easily send a confusing message to them or even worse stumble them. Some of them could be turned off to Christianity if they saw a Christian drinking, and confirm their worst suspicions about the hypocrisy of Christians.

To get myself to have this mindset in all aspects of life is hard, but much like Christian life in general, it isn’t always going to be easy. I can be thankful, though, because I know that it was because of others who have done this that has allowed me to be where I am. I think about my spiritual leaders through my college years as well as all of the older ones at our church that denied themselves their own rights and freedom for my sake and the sake of all of the other students, and it is clear the positive effect it can have for those who are faithful to living and doing all things for God’s glory. Their sacrifice with their time, resources, and other things that the world (and even some other Christians) would not fault them for not giving up exemplifies the heart of Apostle Paul, and the life that God has truly called us to live.

1 Corinthians 10:32-33

  • What would Apostle Paul’s life have looked like, given that he tried to “please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved”?  How does his lifestyle compare with the modern day call to be true to my desires, and to seek personal happiness through seeking to please myself?

Apostle Paul’s statement of not seeking his own advantage goes against every grain of what our culture and society encourages us to do. Whether it be in the work place as people jockey for position and promotions, at school where everyone is seen as a competitor, and other aspects of life, we are told to look out for ourselves rather than run the risk of being stepped on. Apostle Paul, on the other hand, demonstrates a life of selflessness. Intentionally not doing what will benefit him or make him happy, and thinking about others. And not just for one other person or a select few, but so that many can be saved. All those things that our society is trying to tell us to avoid (being walked all over, being embarrassed, suffering, having to work harder than you have to, etc.) were all things that Apostle Paul welcomed openly in his life, and that is very apparent in his interactions with the people in the church in Corinth. I think it is safe to say that many people today would look at Apostle Paul’s life and see someone who went through things that nobody would wish upon their worst enemy. But for the salvation of souls, for the building of God’s kingdom through his people, it is clear that Apostle Paul would not trade what he went through for anything in the world.

  • How can I seek the good of many, so that they may be saved?

One way in which I can seek the good of many and not seek my own advantage is through being more giving with my time. Even now, I still find myself wanting to squeeze in some time for myself. I know for most Americans when they go home in the evening, many of them just relax, spend time with family, sit on the couch and watch TV, or go fishing. And as I am living a life where after a full day of work comes ministry, honestly there are times where those things do sound tempting. But Apostle Paul’s words are a blueprint of how I should view myself with respect to those around me, and especially to the many who do not yet to know God. My life should be used to help them reach the point of salvation, and not feeding my own desires and making sure that I am living a comfortable life.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I thank you so much for the example Apostle Paul is, and I pray that you will help me to live according to the life you have called me to. That I would not take Apostle Paul’s life and words as suggestions, but as a blueprint for how I should live my life as a Christian and as a minister. You have called me to such a lofty yet wonderful work to reach the lost and broken, and I pray that I would be faithful to that calling. That I would not want to give in to my selfish desires for comfort and an easy life, but that I would be ready and willing to stretch myself daily. To die to myself and to take up my cross each and every day. That every time I have an inkling or temptation to want to slow down or turn it off, that those thoughts would be sirens and warnings for me to change my selfish heart and attitude. I pray that I would live a life that can benefit many and not just myself. Lord, would you give me the strength to fight any other urge that is not glorifying to You. I pray all of these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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