5-Minute Bible Studies
DEFERENCE– A Five Minute Study
Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky
Contributed by Ron Wallie
Husband and Father of Nine, Southington, OH
August 30, 2003
BIBLICAL EXAMPLE – PAUL, THE APOSTLE
In the letters of Paul, he talks much about being careful not to offend other people unnecessarily. We will look at some of his instructions and his own example. Read I Corinthians 10:14-33.
This chapter is dealing with the problem of idolatry, especially with the pagan practice of sacrificing meet to idols preparatory to selling it in the meat market. We may not understand what was involved, but we know it caused a problem for the Christians. Some Christians would buy meat without investigating the details of its preparation. Other Christians would not buy meat unless they were able to verify—in some way—that the meat had not been sacrificed to idols. This second group of Christians would get in awkward situations when eating in someone else’s home. Should they eat the meat served by the host? Should they ask the host if the meat had been sacrificed to idols? What if the host did not know? What if the host informed the Christian that the meat had been sacrificed to idols?
In verse 27, Paul say, “If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to go, eat anything that is set before you, without asking questions for conscience’ sake.” So, it was not necessary to investigate this. On the other hand, Paul says in verse 28 and 29:
But if anyone should say to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the Sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own Conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s Conscience?
In this instruction, Paul was saying that we should be careful of the other person’s conscience. Otherwise, we would be encouraging the unbeliever in his idolatry by our willingness to share in this practice.
In chapter 8, the same question of eating meat sacrificed to idols is discussed with reference to weak Christians. These Christians were still tempted to worship idols, so they avoided anything associated with idols, even meat. In verse 13, Paul says, “Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble [sin], I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble [sin].”
DEFERENCE IN OUR LIVES
We do not have the same practices of idolatry as existed in Corinth, but we still have many issues which can potentially offend others. The following “I will” statements will help avoid offending others—and worse—causing others to sin.
I will notice those around me.
I will respect the feelings of others.
I will not use offensive language.
I will not play loud music.
I will be careful how I dress.
DEFERENCE IN MY LIFE THIS WEEK
Memorize I Corinthians 10:31. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Think about how everything we do should glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Even our eating and drinking—common, everyday activities—should glorify God. Our dress is especially important in the American culture where immodesty rules in many places. If we glorify God in our day-to-day activities, there is only one way we may offend someone: Proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and His salvation is an offense to those who will not repent. But do not be afraid of this offense. Paul is, again, our teacher and example: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.