Scripture reading for September 3rd: 1st Corinthians 8
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 8:7-11 “However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”
Paul was talking to the Corinthian believers who had come out of idolatry and found new freedom in Christ. Some were freely eating meat sacrificed to idols knowing that their eating had nothing to do with their salvation. This liberty was causing some of the believers, whose consciences were still weak, to stumble in their new-found faith. We can be right in our actions, but still be wrong if we cause others to stumble. The law of love says that I temper my actions and liberty to help and encourage my weaker brothers and sisters to grow in grace. I will do nothing that knowingly causes my brothers to stumble. Love never fails! Because of Christ’s love of all people and His desire for their salvation, we who have knowledge can limit our liberty to demonstrate our sincere commitment to Christ and build up weaker believers.
Romans 14:14-15 “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.”
Faith confession and prayer: Father, thank You for declaring all foods clean and the liberty given by grace to believers. I am thankful for knowledge through Your Word but mindful of Your great love for all. Give me grace to know when to limit my liberty to help those who are still weak in their faith and not cause them to stumble. Fill me with Your love and wisdom through the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17-19 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”
Scripture reading for July 16th: 1st Corinthians 8, Psalm 141, Proverbs 17
Key Scriptures: 1st Corinthians 8:9-13 “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
Christ Jesus delivers us from bondage to the Law and gives us His law of love. We are to love God fully and love our neighbor as our very self. Paul taught what this looked life for him in the culture of idolatry he lived in. He was free in Christ to eat anything, but did not want to cause any new believer or potential believer to stumble and return to idolatry. He limited his ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ in Christ for the sake of the salvation of others. This is love in action as the Holy Spirit leads.
Faith Confession: I can limit my liberty in Christ as the Holy Spirit directs in order to help weaker believers or potential converts. Help me today to love others as You do in this time and culture.
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”
Scripture reading for July 15th: 1st Corinthians 8
Key Scriptures for over-comers: 1st Corinthians 8:9-13 “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols. So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1st Corinthians 8:1b) Paul taught that believers had knowledge that idols were nothing and liberty through Christ to eat what they wanted with prayer and thanksgiving. However, they must let the law of love rule their exercise of liberty. Believers do not want to cause anyone weaker in faith to stumble. If by our liberty, a weaker believer is lead into idolatry, we sin against them and Christ. We have ability and responsibility to limit our liberties because of love for our brothers!
Observations for over-comers: Over-comers help other believers by living a life of love and humble service! “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth, honor and life.” (Proverbs 22:4)
Scripture reading for August 14th: 1st Corinthians 9:1-19
Paul’s discussion of liberty addressed another question. Does a preacher of the Gospel have a right to support from those who he reaches out to? Money issues caused trouble in Paul’s time and he again addressed this sensitive issue by using his own ministry as an example.
Some in Corinth were critical of Paul and others who preached the Gospel. They had accused them of doing ministry just for support. They looked at ministry as an easy way to make a living off the hard work of others. Paul cited two different examples to justify the right of those in ministry to receive support.
First he used the soldier who fights for the nation. Does the soldier provide for his own expenses? No! The government provides for him and supplies what he needs. Next he used the farmer who had a vineyard or the man who tended a flock of sheep or goats. Does the one who does this have a right to the produce, meat, and milk? Yes! “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?” (1st Corinthians 9:11) The same principle applies to the one who is sowing spiritually. It is simple to understand and the principle is written in the Law of Moses in simple terms: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4)
But Paul, himself, chose not to use these rights to support. He chose to preach without charge to insure that money issues would not give anyone an excuse to reject the Gospel. (1st Corinthians 9:12) He was not boasting now to manipulate them to give. Paul felt that God had given him a trust in the Gospel message. His reward was to be able to preach without charge.
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” (1st Corinthians 9:19) Paul’s heart was to reach as many as possible with the Gospel message. He was willing to work with his own hands making tents to provide for his own needs to be able to preach to them. Even though he had a God-given right to support, he refused it to obtain a bigger harvest. Would that we all had such a heart for lost people!