Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way. (1 Cor. 13:4-5)
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably come across believers who hold to some interesting views. I once had a very sincere fellow believer tell me I was sinning for wearing shorts in public, for showing off the bottom half of my legs. He argued that this was a violation of the Bible’s command to dress modestly. When he saw my wife wearing a skirt and makeup, he about came unglued. This may seem like an extreme example, but we all have views that others would likely think are extreme. Whether that be Christians consuming alcohol, smoking cigars, listening to secular music, watching TV or movies, using a particular Bible translation, women wearing pants, getting tattoos, we all have views we believe are biblical and can be defended from scripture. Views others would strongly disagree with. While it is certainly worth discussing every aspect of Christianity, what do we do once we have discussed and have tried in vain to persuade the other person to our point of view? Very often we think that since we don’t believe our behavior is wrong, we are going to do it anyway and if the other person does not like it or is offended by it, too bad. They are just immature Christians, and they need to grow up. Paul dealt with a similar situation in 1 Corinthians 8, wherein some Christians thought it was wrong, or even sinful, to eat meat that had been sacrifice to idols. The cultural situation going on in the city of Corinth is that many devout pagans who sold meat in the marketplace would often sacrifice a portion of the meat to their pagan god or gods in order to earn their favor in the hopes that the gods will bless their business. Some Christians in Corinth thought that to buy or eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols was in someway to endorse or approve of pagan sacrifices. This is not dissimilar to Christians who believe we should not do business with a company which has a pro-abortion agenda or a pro-homosexual agenda or some other unbiblical/politically liberal agenda. So how does Paul respond to this? First, he reminds those struggling with eating meat sacrificed to idols that “as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one’” (v.4). These false gods are not real; therefore, it’s really not a big deal to eat meat that had been sacrificed to them. But then he reminds those who are not concerned about eating meat sacrificed to idols that “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” (v.7). Some Christians, because of their past negative association with idols, are really bothered by eating meat sacrificed to idols. Thirdly, Paul reminds them both that “food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do” (v.8). Eat or don’t eat. It does not matter. But then Paul graciously ends his lesson with these words, “if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (v.13). Even though Paul just taught that eating meat sacrificed to idols is not wrong or sinful, if it offends his brother, he “will never eat meat” again. This is perfectly in line with what Paul will teach in 1 Cor. 13 that “Love is patient and kind…[Love] does not insist on its own way.” In the end, let us seek to love the weaker brethren.
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