1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
There were some in the church in Corinth (likely Jews) who had been brought up observing strict rules around what could be eaten and what could not, whereas Gentiles (non-Jews) thought such rules were unnecessary. Paul is suggesting that Gentiles should observe the dietary laws for the sake of their Jewish brothers and sisters in the church. At least while they’re in the same company. Why?
As the passage says, we have lots of freedom as Christian people. Many things are “lawful” (permissible), but not everything that is permissible is a good idea – particularly when we take into consideration those around us.
For instance, while it is not a sin to smoke, many people choose not to. If you’re a smoker, you likely refrain from smoking when in the presence of non-smokers. Or, if you’re out to dinner with someone who is a recovering alcoholic, you might choose not to drink alcohol in their presence – out of respect for their recovery. This sort of thing.
A foundational mark of a Christian is one’s willingness to surrender one’s own wants and needs for the sake of others. This is what the bible refers to as “love” or in Greek “agape”. Love is less about feelings and more about giving oneself for the sake of another – as Jesus did for us on the cross. In essence, what the apostle Paul is encouraging Christians to do in forsaking certain freedoms for the sake of another is to “love” one another. Make sense?
A key question for us this morning is – where is the Lord encouraging us to “love” someone, to surrender our own wants/needs for the sake of another?
Lord Jesus, give us grace to “agape” someone today. Amen.