So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
In Christ we are free – that’s true. God gave us freewill. That is undeniable as well. But that freedom and that freewill should not become our excuse to sin. For the sake of the gospel, we have to learn how to, at times, tuck our freedom away. And that’s what distinguishes us as Christians from the rest of the world. If glorifying God is a priority in our lives, then it wouldn’t be too hard to sacrifice some of our freedom. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul uses the analogy of not eating food that has been offered as a sacrifice to establish our need to rise above ourselves and put aside our need to do as we please. We do not eat not for our own sakes, but for the sake of not stumbling somebody else, whose faith and understanding may be weaker than ours. There are many other worldly things that we should avoid – if we want to honour God; if we value the glory of God.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do – whether you eat or drink – that’s really a direct reference to the scenario Paul was advising the Church of Corinth about – whether or not to eat something that has been offered as a sacrifice. This is not a new topic to us, Paul has also addressed this – in greater details – in the book of Romans. I refer you to Romans 14:15, which I personally see as an adequate summary to this whole debate – If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died [Rom 14:15]. If because of your strong faith you eat something with the understanding that it is not unclean and give thanks to God for it, then the food is clean – according to Paul – but if because of this strong faith of yours a person beside you stumble in his faith because he does not possess your understanding that it is not unclean; then you are at fault – Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come [Matt 18:7]!
Really, though, while the topic of eating ‘unclean’ food is a great example of this, there are many other modern-day scenarios which will fit into this context. Replace it with ‘whatever you do’ – it’s basically asks us to, in every action, every decision, do it all for the glory of God.
do it all for the glory of God – whatever is it that we do, God must be glorified. If you choose to glorify God by eating, then God is glorified, and you are justified. If you choose to glorify God by not eating, then God is glorified, and you are justified. But if you choose to glorify God by eating and yet ignore your brother who stumbles because you ate, then you failed in glorifying God, and you are not justified. We have the freedom to eat. We have the freewill to decide to eat. But when freedom clashes with love, love should enable us to rise above our need for freedom. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love [Rom 14:15]. And if we are not acting in love, what is the point of trying to glorify God through our strong faith, then? After all, if I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing [1 Cor 13:2].
What is freedom, if you act without love and stumble your brother? What is knowledge, if you have so much of it that it puffs [1 Cor 8:1] and yet have no love to build? What is faith, if it is based on knowledge, subjected to freedom, and not based on love? Distinguish yourself. You are a follower of Christ – understand what that means. It is one thing to be faithful; but never allow your faith to become oppressive to the people around you. It is one thing to have knowledge, but never allow your knowledge to hinder love being built up. It is one thing to be free from the shackles of sin, and yet another thing altogether to use freedom as a reason to sin. In all that we do, let us do it for one sole reason – the glory of God. May God bless us with wisdom and discernment and sensitivity to the people and circumstances around us, that we will always act in the way that would most glorify our Lord.