Christians make a lot of tough decisions.
They decide what they will eat, drink, wear, and what they will ultimately do. Since there are so many differing opinions, it’s easy to be at odds with another believer about lifestyle choices.
For gray areas where the Bible is not definitive, Christians could go back and forth on these issues indefinitely. However, there is a passage in 1 Corinthians that settles these types of disputes once and for all.
In 1 Cor. 8, the Apostle Paul brings up a hot topic that had caused much controversy in the early Church: Is it all right for a believer to eat food that had been sacrificed to an idol?
Some were adamant that yes, eating the food is fine. Some were adamant that no, a Christian should never partake in sacrificed food to idols.
Paul plainly points out that “food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (8:8, NIV). But in the next verse he also warns Christians to not use this as an excuse as it could cause confusion and guilt to other fellow believers who may have chosen not to partake because of their conscience.
A previous college professor spelled out this issue for me by creating three simple questions for each side to ask themselves.
If people believe they are free to do/say/eat/drink/ect, they should ask themselves:
- Is this just an excuse for worldliness?
- Is this beneficial for me and others?
- Am I being mastered by it?
And on the flip side, those who believe they are not free to do/say/eat/drink/ect, they should ask themselves:
- What is my motivation here?
- Is this God’s will or human tradition?
- Am I trying to be holy, or just grouchy?
Paul is pointing out that we should choose love over enlightenment or correctness.