I Corinthians 10:30
If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? NIV
This is a continuation of Paul’s thought on eating various things that I began looking at yesterday. In The Message, this verse also addresses the concept of worry, “If I eat what is served to me, grateful to God for what is on the table, how can I worry about what someone will say? I thanked God for it and he blessed it!” MSG
Paul has basically told the people that they can eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience. In the same way, if they go to someone’s house for dinner, they can eat anything they are served, giving thanks to God. But, he says in verses 28 & 29, “If anyone says to you ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience sake — the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.” NIV
I’m Baptist. We don’t have any rules about food … well, I take that back. We definitely have food customs — Wednesday Night Supper and Dinner on the Grounds — both of which I love — and, it is pretty much a rule that, if you’re Baptist, and especially if you are a female Baptist, you need to have two or three really reliable casserole recipes, and the ingredients on hand at all times to produce one of them on short notice. When a fellow church member gets ill, or if someone dies, or if a baby is born, we Baptists bring food — lots of it.
But, even if we don’t have the strict food rules that Paul was addressing … there are rules in 2010 — things that you should do and shouldn’t do — questions of conscience.
I believe Paul’s point here is akin to the one he makes over and over … don’t cause your brother to stumble.
Ah! In fact, he says just that in the next couple of verses, “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do no cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that ye may be saved.” NIV
So, what is there here to learn?
When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was a beautifully illustrated children’s book. You know the type … it was large, to a child it seemed huge … and the story unfolded sentence by sentence across the bottom of the pages. It was called something like, “Please all, please none,” and it was the story of a man and his son who were taking their donkey to market. As I remember it, the family had fallen on hard times, and they needed to sell the donkey for money. As they started off toward the market, which was several towns away, the man and his son were walking, leading their beloved donkey. In the first town that they approached, the people remarked that the donkey had it pretty good. The little boy was walking … why didn’t the man allow his son to ride in comfort?
In response, the man put his son on the donkey.
As they approached the next town, the people there remarked on the selfishness of the child … how could he ride in comfort, while his father walked in the dust?
So, the man and the son switched places.
In the next town, the people made fun of the man … who now was riding in comfort while his son was forced to walk like his donkey.
So, the man took his son up on the donkey’s back along with him.
In the next town, the people were shocked at how a man and his son could both be riding the same donkey! How hard the donkey was working! How unkind of the man and his son. They should be carrying the donkey instead of the donkey carrying them!
So, they both got of the donkey, tied it’s legs to a poll, and the man and his son then began carry the donkey into the town where the market was located.
As they entered the town, they had to cross a bridge over a river, and, they were such a sight … a man and his son carrying a donkey … that all of the people laughed and yelled and jeered and pointed. The uproar frightened the donkey, who began to struggle in his ropes. The man and the boy and the donkey all fell in the river, and, because his feet were tied, the donkey drowned.
Now, there would be no money to solve the problem that had occurred in the first place.
The morale of the story was, of course, that you can please some of the people, some of the time, but, if you try too hard to please everyone … you’ll end up drowning your donkey.
I can’t worry about what other people think … only about what God thinks. If what I am doing is right and good in His sight, and if I work hard to do God’s will and to serve others and not to do things that will cause another to stumble, that’s it. I must do all for the glory of God. That’s what I’m here to do.
That’s what I’ll think about today.