“For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 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.” 1 Corinthians 8:5-12
The Corinthians were tangled up in how to exercise their freedom in Christ, wanting to enjoy eating meat that had been offered to idols because they no longer held to idolatrous practices and superstitions. But Paul turns their yen for justifying pleasures and satisfying wants to their higher purpose: They existed for God, and through Jesus Christ. If all of life is filtered through this divine framework, their first love for Him, and ensuing love for others, would filter their decisions about indulgences.
Who is the real God of my life? How does my behavior prove what I believe? There are many little-g gods vying for my allegiance, and when I give them lip-service, I dally in their worldly wares and ways of thinking. When I serve little-l lords, my fealty is for self and life revolves around my desires, because that’s what lower-case divinities do. They invert rightful reverence and elevate man and his feelings above holy God and truth. But to love God first, I turn from the meat market, from selecting my tasty treats, to considering how I can best honor and build up others. I am happily willing to forego my preference for another’s good.
“The most important is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
In truth, there is but one big-G God. Does my life give such evidence? I exist through His life and power, and for His glory. Are my daily choices so aligned and yielded? In what areas do I need reminding that I am not my own, but belong to Him? Would I do others the grace of reminding them too? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 1:16)
Good Father, by whom and for whom I was made, may I use my freedom never to indulge self, but always and only to honor You, and to serve and encourage others for Your sake. (Galatians 5:16)