“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. Therefore, 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.’ 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. 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.” “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant.” 1 Corinthians 8:1,4,7-13; 13:4
“None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.” Romans 14:7
There is much freedom in the Christian life, but our overarching freedom has been granted so we will love and serve one another, not ourselves. Too often, we abuse our liberty with a puff of arrogance, an air of independence, bolstered by our knowledge of God’s grace to us. Clinging to our personal rights, we indulge self while disregarding or judging others for whom Jesus has also died. We can abuse or wave our ‘all things are lawful’ banner, but fail to put our glorious freedom into practice for the good of others. While I may say I’m willing to relinquish my privileges, only a pure, selfless love for Christ and others will compel me to actually do so. When Jesus sets us free from self-promotion and -obsession, He redeems our affections and changes our priorities and what we treasure. (1 Corinthians 10:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Are we more prone to spending thought, time, and resources on our own pleasure, perhaps holding back a portion for God, or do we take thoughtful moments, waiting on God, to consider how He would have us behave, give, serve, spur one another on to love and good deeds? Do I make excuses to justify my selfish expenditures, or hold loosely all God has entrusted to me, seeking His leading in stewardship? How willing am I to give up my rights for the sake of another who is less knowledgable in the faith, who may misconstrue my exercise of freedom as a license to indulge in an area that to him causes stumbling and a guilty conscience? Do my actions give evidence that I care more about myself or the faith and good of others? (Galatians 5:13; Hebrews 10:24)
Lord on High, remove any spiritual puffery from my heart, and infuse me with genuine love that manifests itself in selfless, lavish living for others’ sake.