Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 17 & 18
Psalms Reading: Psalm 55
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 8
In the letter of 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. Corinth is in modern day Greece, so it was at the heart of Greek influence. This would have meant that the church in Corinth would have been surrounded by people who put their faith and hope in the Greek gods. The worship of idols was not just an aspect of the Greek culture, it was the heart of Greek culture. I’m sure many in the church at Corinth would have come from this background of worshipping the Greek gods. For some, that would not have been a big deal; they could separate themselves from the worship of idols. For others, it would have been difficult to separate themselves from the worship of idols. For those who had troubles separating themselves from the worship of idols, they would have had a conflicting conscience eating food that was originally offered as a sacrifice to these idols. Was it sinful to do so?
Paul explains that we are not better or worse off if we eat the food originally offered to idols. At the same time, Paul urges those who aren’t conflicted by eating food originally offered to idols to withhold from eating this food in front of those whose conscience was conflicted.
There are two key takeaways that I would like to mention here:
1) Everybody is susceptible to different temptations. One path may be safe for someone to travel down; however, that same path may lead to danger for someone else. For the church at Corinth, some could eat the food offered to idols and stay away from the temptation to commit idolatry while others could not. One person may be fine having social media and be safe from the temptation to covet, while another person may not be safe from this temptation. One person may be fine having a drink of alcohol and be safe from the temptation to get drunk, while another person may not be safe from this temptation. One person may be safe to have digital media on their phone and be safe from the temptation to lust, while another person may not be safe from this temptation. You catch the drift.
As we alluded to in yesterday’s devotion, you must be acutely aware of what triggers you to commit sin. It is different for everybody. Being self-aware of your triggers is key to your recovery from a sinful habit and key to keep you away from a sinful habit.
2) If something is safe for you to indulge in but not for those around you, then don’t take part in it. Paul urged the Christians at Corinth to not serve as a stumbling block for those around them by eating the food originally offered to idols in front of others who may struggle with this. Therefore, do we not only need to be aware of what triggers may lead us to sin, it’s imperative that we understand what triggers those around us to sin. When we act as a stumbling block to those around us, we are sinning ourselves. In one of my favorite teachings, Jesus explains the severity of causing others to stumble in Matthew 18:6 – check it out.
All in all, be cognizant that God made us all different, and we are all tempted by different things. Be aware of what tempts you while also being aware of what tempts those around you.
- What are your temptation triggers? What boundaries can you create to help keep yourself from sin?
- How can your actions lead your family members and Christian brothers and sisters who might have different temptations and consciences to sin? What can you do instead to support them and strengthen them in their stand (or flight) against temptation?
- What does your Bible reading today tell you about the One who inspired these words? Who is He and what is His desire?