“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.’ If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience – I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:24-32
That is easier said than done at times isn’t it? Seeking the good of my neighbor rather than my own good. Loving my neighbor as I love myself. We know that the two greatest commandments are-- loving God with all of our heart mind soul and strength and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, but somewhere along the way I wonder if we have forgotten the art of serving others. I am concerned that in our world that idea of serving others is switched into something selfish. The idea of, you need to serve me as I want to be served. And If we are not careful that idea can creep into the church and cause division where there should be none.
Paul speaks here and also in Chapter 8 about food sacrificed to idols. You are free to eat of it in your Christian liberty and free not to eat of it. You are to strive not to cause your brother to stumble, to not lead him into sin. But Paul says there is nothing moral or immoral in the eating or not eating of that meat.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love does not insist on its own way. Yet if we look at our world today, we see a lot of insisting on our own way. You must serve me in the way that I want to be served! That is not love but selfishness. I am amazed at times at how selfish I really am. It is difficult to serve and to give. It is hard to love as Christ desires us to do.
We live in a world today with a lot of fear, anger, frustration, worry, discouragement, depression, confusion. How do we sort through all of the messages we hear and even our own emotions? How do we try not to conform to the world, but to the Word?
One way is to not get sucked into the division that is rampant around us. You don’t have to think like I do on every issue under the sun and I don’t have to think like you do about every issue under the sun. We do have some liberty there. But we do have to serve one another, and we do have to love. And we do have to fight for unity in Christ.
Think of some of the things that divide our world today: Morality, Gender, Politics, Race, Science, Government, and now health issues and concerns are causing division in the culture.
Let us beware that these things do not divide the church as well. Christ came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. That is my example and that is your example.
As we are aware of the world around us and the troubles of life, let’s slow down and start with some basic principles. 1) How can I serve better in my home? How can I be a better husband and father? 2) How can I serve the church? What ways can I show love to the brothers and sisters in Christ for whom Christ died? 3) How can I show love in my job? 4) How can I show love and serve my neighbor? Those nearest to me.
The world says, ‘You must all do X or think X.” We have to resist that urge in the Church. As I seek to serve, I seek to serve, but I cannot insist others serve me as I want them to serve me.
As we seek to love one another in the body of Christ and to serve one another in love, let us outdo one another in our serving but let us also beware of being demanding. Praise God for the body of Christ and the responsibility we have to love and serve one another.
Let us practice the lost art of serving instead of the world’s way of demanding.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2