Paul’s previous discussion about eating in idol temples focused on what it would mean if a “weaker” brother was affected by your decision. Here he focuses on what it means spiritually if you do. While there is only one God, there are demons in the world, and participating in these temples means you are actually “partnering with demons” (10:20). Paul uses the example of sharing the Lord’s Supper, or Israel sharing in the sacrifices, to illustrate what he means (10:16-18). To share in demonic communion risks provoking the Lord, and none of us are strong enough to want to do that (10:22)!
Paul again unites the issue of food offered to idols and the concept of a weaker brother. What happens when the food that was offered up in the temple, or left over from the sacrifices, is sold? The food itself isn’t an issue (10:26). If an unbeliever offers you food, don’t even inquire about it, just eat it (10:27). However, if it bothers someone else, don’t (10:28). Why should we be governed by another’s conscience, particularly if we are appropriately thankful for the food (10:30)? Because we don’t want to cause a problem for the person (10:28). We want to build others up and seek their good (10:23-24). By not eating in this situation we are giving glory to God, because we are not giving offense (10:31-32). Paul concludes by encouraging them (and us!) to imitate his example, but only insofar as he imitates Christ.
Some quick thoughts:
- Do Paul’s comments in 10:14-22 preclude us from visiting a place of worship other than a Christian church? Or is it only if it’s an ongoing thing? Or perhaps the intent matters?
- Should we be a little more concerned about the church as a whole rather than our individual rights? Should we be willing to make concessions about how we live and what we do in order to better share the gospel?
- Once again, having a role model or a teacher we love is fine. However, they need to continually point us to Christ. And we should always look at what they say and do and compare it to Christ.
- God gave us a wonderful world to live in. How often are we truly thankful for all that we have, rather than just taking it for granted?
- We should try to do everything for the glory of God!