Giving Ourselves as Gifts: Authority to Share

There’s been a lot of talk recently about “Christian cleavage.” Should Christian women wear modest clothing so they don’t encourage men to lust? Or should the responsibility be put on Christian men to control their lustful thoughts around women? That’s the debate.

There was a similar debate going on in Corinth. Some Christians were eating food offered to idols because they knew “an idol has no real existence” and “there is no God but one” (1st Corinthians 8:4). Other Christians, not as mature in the faith, were eating food offered to idols without realizing that the idols weren’t real gods. “Their conscience, being weak, [was] defiled” (verse 7). Should Christians eat food offered to idols, knowing the idol wasn’t real? Or should Christians avoid such food so that other Christians wouldn’t be confused? That was the debate.

In his letter, Paul pointed out that “food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (verses 8-9). Basically, he’s saying that what’s important isn’t what you do, but how it affects others. If eating food offered to idols causes someone to stumble in their faith, you should avoid it. If wearing immodest clothing causes someone to stumble in their faith, you should avoid it.

We have the authority of Jesus, given to us in our baptisms. But this is more than authority – it is a responsibility to use it for the advancement of the kingdom. We are here to share the Word of God, and that’s it. Everything we say and do should work towards that end goal. Paul said it this way: “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (verse 13). Watch what you do and how it affects those around you. They are your responsibility.

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