Living to magnify Jesus Christ. Disciple, Husband, Father, Pastor. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
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Doing good to your neighbour and bringing glory to God
1 Corinthians 10:23-33
How seeking the best for your friends and glorifying God are one and the same thing!
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Published October 11th, 2016; Updated October 12th, 2016
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Sam's arc and paraphrase.
Main point summary
I love this verse - 1 Cor 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." It's one of those "life verses" which for many people, including myself, is etched our hearts and in our minds. I truly want all my actions to bring glory of God. As I was meditating on this verse, I began to wonder about the context in which it sits. I try to avoid taking passages of scripture out of context, but I confess that I've not been overly familiar with the context of 1 Cor 10:31, I've just enjoyed the verse. When you think about it, the context for this verse is so important. Yes, we're to do all things to the glory of God, but how? How do I eat to the glory of God? How do I drink to the glory of God? It's all well and good to desire to glorify God, but I need to know how, right? The verse, 1 cor 10:31 gives us the "What", but the surrounding context gives us the "How". Therefore, I decided to analyse 1 Cor 10:23-33 through arcing the passage to get the bigger picture about the "How" that follows the command to "do all to the glory of God" . Here are some interesting things I found: The main point of this passage is actually about doing good to your neighbour, it's about seeking their best. All Christian's are called to seek the best for their non-Christian friends and in this way, we glorify God. Paul lays this out in v23-24, explaining that although in Christ we are free from the law, we should seek to only do that which is helpful and upbuilding for our neighbours. We shouldn't use our freedom for our own good, but we should think about how our actions impact others and make decisions on that basis. Paul then gives some practical advice to Christians in Corinth, telling them not to eat meat sacrificed to idols if it's going to cause their friends to think it's acceptable to offer sacrifices to false gods. The Christian's at Corinth are to seek the best for their friends in one particular way, by not doing anything which hinders them receiving the gospel; or to put it another way, by doing anything (including foregoing a nice juicy steak dinner) to help their friends find faith in Jesus. A question is then raised in v30 which can be paraphrased like this: Why should I have to refrain from doing something which in Christ I'm free to do? Paul answers this way: Because in whatever you do, including your eating and drinking, you should do it to the glory of God. (v31) Paul explains how God is glorified in v32-33: He says that God is glorified (meaning God shines forth from us) as we choose to forgo our rights to indulge in certain activities, in order that our friends can be best prepared to receive the gospel. By way of illustration, A long time ago I attended a function with a new Christian who'd come out of a life of binge drinking and partying. She'd recently joined our ministry and I thought it would be a nice gesture to give her a vip ticket to an awards dinner I'd been invited to attend. At the dinner I chose to have a bottle of beer with my meal. Not far into the dinner another Christian (who knew the girl and her background) came up, pulled me to one side and rebuked me for drinking in front of the girl. I pushed back, explaining that I wasn't going to get drunk and not being under any kind of law, I was free to have a single beer. Later on, I realised that other Christian was right. The problem wasn't that I was violating God's law against alcohol, but rather I was violating His law of love, in that I was putting my own pleasure before the good of my newly saved friend. I was seeking my own pleasure and not her good. I was putting up barriers to her walk with Jesus. I wasn't glorifying God in that moment, for the very reason that I was seeking my own advantage and not that of my neighbour. If we want to be people who glorify God, we must become like Christ, who left the pleasures of heaven in order to put the salvation of the world first. Therefore, what is it for me to forego a bottle of beer to help my friend see Jesus that little bit more clearly? What is it for us to make small, everyday sacrifices for the sake of the salvation of others? As we make all our decisions based on how our actions best help others see Christ, we can truly say that we're doing all things to the glory of God. What rights do you have in Christ that God is calling you to lay down for the good of your neighbour and for His glory?
Sam's arc and paraphrase.
1 Corinthians 10:23-33
m “All things are lawful,”
You're free to do anything
but not all things are helpful.
but not everything is helpful for other people.
“All things are lawful,”
You're free to do anything
but not all things build up.
but not everything will build up other people.
n Let no one seek his own good,
No one should put themselves first
but the good of his neighbor.
instead you should seek what is best for your neighbour.
o Eat whatever is sold in the meat market
This is how you seek your neighbours whatever is sold in the meat market
without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
without erecting barriers on the grounds of conscience.
For p “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
Because all that's in the earth belongs to God so it's clean for you to eat it.
If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner
Furthermore, if a non-Christian invites you for a meal
and you are disposed to go,
and you feel you should go (it's your choice)
q eat whatever is set before you
then eat whatever they give you.
without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
and don't raise questions on the ground of conscience (about it being sacrificed to idols)
But if someone says to you,
However, if someone, of their own volition, chooses to tell you....
“This has been offered in sacrifice,”
the food you're about to eat has been offered to idols
then do not eat it,
then do not eat it....
for the sake of the one who informed you,
Because by refraining from eating food offered to false god's, you're doing good to the personal who informed you of that fact......
and for the sake of conscience—
for you to refrain from partaking of something offered to false god's is good for their conscience (it's a witness to them)
I do not mean r your conscience,
To clarify, not your conscience
but his.
but theirs.
For s why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?
You might ask, why should I be stopped eating tasty food that I'm allowed to eat for the sake of my neighbour's conscience?
If I partake with thankfulness,
Furthermore, if I give thanks for the food I'm about to eat (which the Apostles say I'm to do)
why am I denounced because of that t for which I give thanks?
then why am I denounced for eating that for which I've given thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink,
This is why: Whether you eat food or drink drink
or u whatever you do,
or whatever action your partake in
do all to the glory of God.
do everything to the glory of God.
v Give no offense to Jews
Let me tell you how to give glory to God: Choose to avoid offending the Jews
or to Greeks
Choose to avoid offending the Greeks
or to w the church of God,
Choose to avoid offending the church
just as x I try to please everyone in everything I do,
Look at what I (Paul) do: I try to please everyone in everything I do....
y not seeking my own advantage,
In this way: By not seeking my own good....
but that of many,
but the good of other people
that they may be saved.
that they may come to know Jesus Christ.
Eat whatever is set before you (in the market or in an unbelievers house).....unless they tell you it's been offered to idols.
Seek the Good of your neighbour (the unbeliever), rather than your own good; be helpful, build up.
Why should I abstain from eating for the sake of others? (When I am free according to Paul's teaching to eat).
You forgo your rights for God's glory. You do so by not doing anything which may offend people of other cultures, that the door for the gospel may be wide open.
Do everything for God's glory by laying down your rights.
Seek the good of your neighbour by only doing things which build up
Main point summary
Seek the best for your unbelieving neighbours by seeking God's glory in every act: being ready to lay down your rights for the sake of their salvation.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.