Summary: 1 Corinthians 8 Living in the Light doesn’t mean that we all agree on every little thing. There is a lot of room for differences - as long as we follow some basic guidelines for treating one another rightly.
Free But Constrained
"You take a dog, in the city perhaps, but anywhere, and you fence him in a small yard and he barks and barks, pacing back and forth. He jumps at the gate begging to get out. When by chance he gets someone inadvertently lets him out or he escapes, he runs through the neighborhood, knocking over trash cans, scaring cats and chasing cars.
Take that same dog on a ranch in Wyoming with wide open spaces and no fences. That same dog sits on the porch with little desire to run and chase even the prairie dogs within a few feet from its nose. He knows that he is free and does not need to prove it to anyone.
I think it is amazing how when we are fenced in we run and run around, chasing our own tails just waiting to get out, but once we realize how free we truly our, it is on the porch with the familiar where we are content." - eric j. sherman
I am Free! But I am constrained by love for the Family of God
1 Corinthians 8:7-9 (NCV)
7 But not all people know this. Some people are still so used to idols that when they eat meat, they still think of it as being sacrificed to an idol. Because their conscience is weak, when they eat it, they feel guilty.
8 But food will not bring us closer to God. Refusing to eat does not make us less pleasing to God, and eating does not make us better in God’s sight.
9 But be careful that your freedom does not cause those who are weak in faith to fall into sin.
1 John 2:12-14 (NIV)
12 I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. 13 I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father. Little childrenYour sins have been forgiven on account of his nameYou have known the FatherYoung menYou have overcome the evil oneYou are strong, and the word of God lives in you (vs 14)FathersYou have known him who is from the beginningThe greater the responsibility the less freedom you have!
Principal to Live By: You are not free to do anything that causes a believer to fall into sin.
Meat and Idolatry
Some eat and feel fine. Some eat and feel guilty
This became a point of contention and accusation
Look closely at verse 3. “But if any person loves God, that person is known by God.”
We each of us live before God as individuals. Don’t set your self up to judge how anyone else is living before God – with one exception. Yourself!
That does not allow believer with frail faith to dictate behavior to the believer with the more robust faith.“I don’t like that so you can’t participate in it.”
Does my expression of my freedom damage their faith and cause them to fall into sin?
I am Free! But I am constrained by the rights of those who minister1 Corinthians 9:4-7 (NCV)
4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to bring a believing wife with us when we travel as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Peter? 6 Are Barnabas and I the only ones who must work to earn our living?
7 No soldier ever serves in the army and pays his own salary. No one ever plants a vineyard without eating some of the grapes. No person takes care of a flock without drinking some of the milk.
Now I am a little uncomfortable in what I am going to say because it can sound self-serving. But I’m going to say it anyway for the sake of the others on staff at MCC and for your sake.
Paul makes it very clear that those who have given their lives to ministry have rightsMinisters have a right to eat and drink
Ministers have a right to the support of a believing wife ministering and serving alongside them.
Ministers have a right to a salary from the tithes and offerings of the people they serve.
Let me clarify some things to you about ministry: Ministry is about what you are – not what you do. It is not a profession. I am not a professional. I am not paid to minister. I am paid so I can minister without having to work to support my self and my family. For this I am very grateful to you.
While ministry is a privilege and I am grateful it is also a matter of doing right by those who are in ministry on behalf of the church body.