Daily Devotional

March 31, 2019

Daybreak: 1 Corinthians 8:1 through 9:27

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

The beautiful day was perfect for skiing downhill into a world of white. The snow pack was just right, making the slopes ideal for the magnificent skiing that would soon take place. Excitement mounted and hearts pounded as the contestants lined up at each event in the long-awaited Winter Olympics. Many years of practice and strict training were behind each participant. The contestants had vied for this honor over the past few months, and now, only the best from each country were waiting to perform — to go for the gold!

As various other sporting events got underway, it was breathtaking to watch the grace and style of each talented athlete. Occasionally, though, a miscalculation would extinguish the long-hoped-for dream of a medal. Some of those eliminated from the event would never have another chance.

As Christians, we are in a spiritual “Olympics” and need to be careful and vigilant. There are many people watching our lives, and we must take every precaution against offending another of our “team-mates” and ultimately causing one to fall. The key is persistence, obedience, and commitment to the course the Lord has laid out for us. Our course may wind uphill and include steep downhill runs. Very likely there will be obstacles in our path, and some of those might seem impossible to navigate — but we can make it through! If we turn our eyes to the things around us, we will find ourselves zipping off course. If we get discouraged with the length of the race or the challenges we face, we may fall by the wayside. But that does not have to happen! If we call on the Lord, He will help us and give us the stamina we need to keep on going right through the last mile. 

This spiritual race is not easy. It is challenging, and often the conditions around us are not favorable. Yet, with God as our trainer and coach, the “gold” — eternal life in Heaven — is certain, if we have followed God’s guidelines and stayed on His course.

Background

In this section of Corinthians, Paul answered questions from the Corinthian believers regarding the eating of food that had been offered to idols. He started by addressing knowledge. Some members of the church apparently had built themselves up to be experts in the matter, but Paul set them straight, pointing out that knowledge can lead to conceit, and that the first priority must be charity (love). True knowledge of God does not come through acquiring cognitive data, but rather by loving Him.

Next, Paul moved into answering the question about eating meat that had been offered to idols. Meat was often brought to a butcher after it had been offered to idols, and then it was sold at a temple “restaurant” or in the marketplace. Some had asked whether or not it was right to consume this meat. Throughout the text, Paul referred to the ability to eat this meat as a “liberty,” or a lawful right.

Paul’s answer to this question was based on two principles, and these principles can still be used today to evaluate an action or make a decision. 1) Is it Scripturally acceptable? 2) Would it be a discouragement or stumbling block to someone else? 

In reference to the first principle, Paul pointed out that the food had been offered to gods that did not really exist. They were nothing more than a piece of metal or wood; therefore there was nothing wrong with the meat itself. 

Paul’s advice relating to the second principle highlights the importance of love. Why would eating meat be a spiritual discouragement to someone? Although eating the meat offered to idols was not a sin, it was difficult for those who had been delivered from idol worship to accept this practice. They did not want to have anything to do with the meat used in idolatrous practices, and for that reason, many even chose not to eat meat at all. Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers to be mindful of their sisters and brothers who were weaker in the faith. His concluding statement on the matter was: “Wherefore I will eat no flesh while the world standeth,” showing that he personally was willing to forego his rights if exercising such a right would cause another person to stumble.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III.   Answers to inquiries
      B.   Concerning meats offered to idols
            1.   Principles stated (8:1-13)
                  a.   Love supersedes knowledge (8:1-3)
                  b.   Things are amoral (8:4-8)
                  c.   Do not cause others to stumble with your liberty (8:9-13)
            2.   Principles illustrated (9:1-27)
                  a.   Paul’s rights for support (9:1-14)
                  b.   Paul’s right to surrender his rights (9:15-23)
                  c.   Paul’s reason for surrendering his rights (9:24-27)

A Closer Look

  1. What support did Paul give for his authority to be called an Apostle? Why do you think Paul needed to defend himself?
     
  2. What principle does this text give us for determining a potential course of action?
     
  3. In what way can we apply Paul’s advice concerning weaker brothers and sisters to our lives today?

Conclusion

We must take care not to offend a sensitive or weaker Christian, nor to let our example cause one to waver in his faith. When we love others, our personal freedom is far less important to us than strengthening the faith of a brother or sister in Christ!

Reference Materials