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Sunday School Lesson - July 3, 2022
"Interdependent Independence"
1 Corinthians 10:23-33
The Point:
"Let Your Responsibility to Others Drive How You Exercise Your Rights"
I'm thankful for our rights as Americans. I'm even more thankful for the rights we've been given in Christ. For example, we have the right not to be held to the convictions or preferences of others, but there are times we must set aside those rights. 
As we step into this study, we'll see that love dictates that we often set aside that "right" and freedom for the sake of others. In so doing, we can encourage others and honor Christ. 
The way we live can significantly impact those : us. The apostle Paul spoke to how we can live in this way. This is indeed a better way to live, and it will lead us to support others and honor Christ. 
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
23  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 
24.  Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. 
 
 
As Paul wrote to the church of Corinth, he used language they were familiar with. "All things are lawful" was something the people would've heard on the streets of Corinth. It was a part of the Corinthian Way. Corinth was set in Greece, and as an important port city, it was a gateway for many people, viewpoints, and sinful activities. As a gateway and an entryway for many sins, everything was accessible for this city. The attitude of the people, then, was that they could do anything because anything was available. 
Paul acknowledged that, yes, they had access to everything, but not everything would help them live life. It's true for us too. Some of the things that are accessible to us are not going to bring us life; rather, they will lead to bondage instead of freedom.
Humans are prone to think of themselves first and others second. Paul reminded the church that the kingdom of God is different than the kingdom of this world. In God's kingdom, we think of others above ourselves. This is not a normal posture for us. We want to be first. We want our own way, yet Paul called for us to humble ourselves and allow the focus to be on "we,", not "me". When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we abandon our earthly standard for a new kingdom normal. 
1 Corinthians 10:25-30
25  Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake; 
26  For the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. 
27  If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no questions for conscience sake. 
28  But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake; for the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; 
29  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other, for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30  For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

KEY WORD:  Sacrifice (v.28) -- This refers to meat left over from an offering to an idol. It was eaten in a pagan temple or sold in the market. 

 

Don't offend others unnecessarily. This sounds easy enough, but if we're not careful, we will offend others and needlessly. Paul continued with his theme of putting others before himself, but now he did so with a very practical example, one the Corinthian believers could likely experience. 

 

The Jews among the Corinthian believers were familiar with the restrictions the law placed on them regarding what they could or couldn't eat. However, because of the new covenant in Christ, those restrictions no longer applied (Mark 7:18-19; Rom. 14:14), and they were free to eat "whatsoever is sold in the shambles." They were free to eat all teh food because the Lord made it all. This was a big deal, especially for those brought up in the Jewish tradition that separated clean food from unclean food. 

Paul now took this freedom and placed it in the context of a dinner invitation.  If an unbeliever invited you to his home for dinner, it was all right to go and to eat the food that was prepared. After all, it could be an opportunity for him to embrace your Savior and for you to have a positive impact on his life. 

 

However, if someone announced that the food was part of a sacrifice, the scenario changed. Nothing was wrong with the food itself, but the believer should still abstain for the sake of the other person's conscience. 

If a believer continues eating he or she might be sending the message that idolatry is OK. By eating, the Christian could be encouraging the other person that it's ok to engage in idolatry. Or the unbeliever, assuming Christians don't eat such meat, would view the believer as a hypocritical, causing a barrier to the unbeliever coming to Christ. 

The believer is to abstain to avoid misleading or offending the other person. Our actions can make or break the growth of a new believer or the progress of someone coming to Christ. If we are thinking about the other person before ourselves, our focus turns to how we can help them in his or her Christian walk. 

1 Corinthians 10:31-33

31  Whether therefore ye at, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God 

33  Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 

What Paul had been saying to the church in Corinth can be summarized with this: Do what gives a witness for Christ. When Paul wrote, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." he encouraged the church at Corinth and the church today to allow every aspect of our lives to honor and glorify Jesus. Paul was not trying to overwhelm us but to encourage us.

Many of us live segmented lives. We live one way at work, one way at home, one way in traffic, and one way around our Christian friends. 

The fruit of your life is seen in every aspect of your life and tells the narrative of what you are rooted in. Do all you do for the glory of God. In regard to Paul's statement - even as I please all men in all things  -- should be interpreted with the following thoughts in mind. 

We must understand Paul's desire to please everyone within the context in which he said it. Paul had been addressing the freedom we have in Christ. Paul willingly set that freedom aside if his actions might offend or cause someone to stumble. He wanted to please them - not offend them - in order to point to Christ. We please the King when we love people in this manner. 

The people of the kingdom of God speak on behalf of the King and represent His goodness to others. We want to give an accurate picture and glimpse of our King. That is why we do all to the glory of God and meet everyone where they are. 

For more information on today's lesson, attend Sunday school at our church Sunday July 3, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. We will be glad to have you.