I’m guessing at one time or another you’ve heard someone say…
“There’s nothing wrong with it, so I have the freedom to do what I want!”
And no, I’m not talking about your kids. I’m talking about adults in the church.
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul invited his reads to take a closer look at the freedom we have in Christ.
Paul was answering a specific question that for us today seems kind of strange . . . Is it right to eat food that has been sacrificed to idols?
Animals were being sacrificed at pagan temples and the meat was taken to the local markets and sold. The problem . . . Corinthian Christians were sharply divided on whether or not a believer should eat something that had been sacrificed to a pagan god. Paul’s answer must have surprised and confused them at a first. He said there is only one God and so eating meat sacrificed to nonexistent gods is fine.
But he knew that some believers, at one time, sacrificed those idols themselves and might have felt convicted that eating this meat was a sin. So he added…
But that doesn’t mean we should!
But wait! Don’t we have freedom in Christ? If it’s not a sin isn’t it okay to do?
I like the way The Message shares Paul’s explanation:
Fortunately, God doesn’t grade us on our diet. We’re neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can’t stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.1 Corinthians 8:8–9 (MSG)
So, why does this conversation matter?
Because love is what matters! If our doing something that is neither right nor wrong troubles someone else, our love for Christ and others should move us to give up our freedom so we don’t offend or hurt another member of the Lord’s family.
Or as Paul sums it up:
While knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.1 Corinthians 8:1b
As people who love the Lord, we will willingly give up the freedom we have in Christ to share His love.
A Prayer Asking God to Help Me Put Love First
as I Live Out My Freedom in Christ
Father, forgive us . . . we are selfish. I am selfish. Too often, I only think about whether or not something is “right or wrong.” It’s too easy for me to view life from my own perspective when You ask me to look at things with a heart of love. You ask me to put my love for You and others first.
We live in a world that seems to applaud selfishness and it’s hurting us. Selfishness results in less joy and happiness. You created us for relationships. You created us to love and be loved. Please forgive us and help us.
You showed Your great love for us by sacrificing Your only Son. We have freedom in Christ because You love us. You are love and when You created us in Your image . . . You made us to love.
Jesus set His freedom aside to show us Your love—to show us His love. Please help me put love first. Please help me live to show everyone I meet Your love . . . even if it means I have to set aside my freedom for a moment. I want to love like Jesus. Please grant me grace and help me to love. Amen.
The truth is, the freedom you and I have in Christ isn’t the freedom to do whatever we want . . . it is the freedom to do whatever God wants. And that is true freedom!
Selfishness sounds like freedom but it is a bondage that never satisfies and makes us miserable. With God’s help, we can put other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We’re not called to excuse or deny sin but when it comes to things like drinking alcohol, playing the lottery, or eating certain foods we are free to practice our own convictions with love. It also means that we will show love by not offending someone who believes something is a sin.
On today’s note write:
The best way to show freedom in Christ is to put love first.
May you celebrate the freedom you have in Christ today with love.
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