Nehemiah 11:1-12:26, 1 Corinthians 10:14-33, Psalms 34:11-22, Proverbs 21:14-16
Today is the 16th day of August Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I’m Brian it’s great to be here with you today, it was great to be here with you yesterday and will be great to be here with you tomorrow, but it is really great to be here with you today since this is happening right now so I’m glad…glad that we can gather around the Global Campfire and take our next step forward together. And that next step will lead us back into the book of Nehemiah. We’re reading from the Evangelical Heritage Version this week. And today Nehemiah chapter 11 verse 1 through 12 verse 26.
Okay. So, in our reading from first Corinthians today Paul seems to be answering a question that at its core, basically boils down to can we be guilty by association, which is a really good question? So, basically what we have going on here is that Corinth is a pagan city. And, so, polytheism is being practiced within the city, which means many gods are being worshiped. And there’s many temples and many ways to worship these gods. And as we have learned from the Scriptures, people do sacrifice to false gods. And, so, the sacrificial system is in place, which actually creates a market, the meat market. Sounds a little bit weird in our day and age of very very nicely packaged grocery stores where we just go and and grab whatever meat, if we’re meat eaters we’re going to eat, but at this point in time, the meat market is populated by the sacrifices of people who have been sacrificing. So, if you go into the market, it’s like virtually impossible to understand whether or not the hamburger you’re going to buy was sacrificed to a false idol or or…or where it came from or what its origin is etc. etc. And the people in the church of Jesus were…were just kind of wondering like how do we parse this? How do we sort this out? How to we have the proper discernment? Can we…like if we don’t know any better can we just eat the meat? Or what if we have friends that are pagan and we know that they worship false idols, and they invited us over for dinner, can we go? Can we be friends? Can we meet with them? Which in so many ways boils down to, can we extend and receive hospitality from one another? And then to make matters even more complicated, how do you associate vocationally with coworkers and…and authorities, bosses in your lives who are pagan and who do worship other gods. But maybe, I don’t know, maybe you’re a carpenter and maybe you are a part of, like at guild, a group of carpenters and this guild believes that a certain God protects the whole guild. And, so, they have like a weekly or monthly or whatever, they…they do something to appease this god, whether it be a sacrifice or some other kind of observation. Well then your kind of an in trouble if you’re a Christian, or if you’re a Jew because you can certainly go to the guild or whatever you’re a part of and say like, I’m a Christian and so I worship Jesus and this is how that goes. But that could actually very very much affect your job or your status among your peers who are all like, why is this one guy not on board with all of us being protected by our local got. And that’s not so hard to even understand in our own day and age. Maybe we don’t have a guild or we’re a part of a union of some sort that forces us into some sort of sacrifice to a pagan God, but the idea of needing to get on board and conform and stay on the same page with your group, that’s everywhere. So, we should understand what the dilemma is here. And, so, in answering this, Paul’s answering quite a comprehensive question. On the one hand he’s saying the idols that are being worshiped aren’t real gods. They’re man-made things. And, so, when people worship them, they’re worshiping nothing at all. And when people sacrifice…well…Paul goes so far as to say that sacrificing to demons, so you don’t want to eat me sacrificed to demons. But Paul’s basically saying, hey, like the meat that you’re talking about here, that’s not really the issue. The issue is how what you do affects those around you. So, if you go by a pound of meat the meat market and you’re not asking every vendor where this meat came from and whether or not it was sacrificed to an idol of some sort. If you’re just going grocery shopping then go grocery shopping. But if somebody volunteers, hey this meat was sacrificed to this particular pagan God. Well, then you have that awareness and now other people around you and so the decision you make becomes different than just grocery shopping. You’re actually being a witness in the moment. Or if you’re invited over to some friends house who you know are pagan and they put food in front of you and you guys are having a nice time of fellowship enjoy yourself. Have a good time but if somebody in the group in that family says, hey by the way, we know we are Christians and you know were not, and the hamburgers were having and I were sacrificed to such and such a god, well then Paul says you pay attention to that other person’s conscience. They cared about what you were going to feel enough to tell you and they’re telling you for a reason so that you don’t step out of bounds with your own conscience. In that case, then respect them, or to just quote it in Paul’s own words, “if one of the unbelievers invite you over and you wanna go, eat whatever you are served without asking questions for the sake of conscience, but if someone says to you, this is from a sacrifice, then do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I mean the other person’s conscience, not your own.” And Paul goes on to say, “why is my freedom judged by somebody else’s conscience?” So, Paul is teaching a posture of…of being aware and caring for those who are around us not just so that we can just exploit our freedoms so that we can care for those who are around us that we are a witness to for Jesus. But underneath it all, there…it’s almost like the unspoken question is, how far can we go with this? How far can we push the boundaries? And also how can we know, in so many variable kinds of circumstances, how can we know how to navigate this? And Paul answers the question. “Whether you eat or drink or do anything else do everything to the glory of God. Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks, or God’s church just as I also try to please all people in all things by not seeking what is best for me but for the many so that they may be saved.” That counsel and advice right there speaks to a myriad of circumstances in our own lives. We may not be able to relate to this meat market whether or not meat was sacrificed or not, but we can certainly relate to the concepts that are underneath it, the things that make us question how far can I push this? What are the boundaries? Can I push the boundaries? Sure, you can. You can do whatever you want to do. But taking the advice from the Scriptures, whether you eat or drink or do anything else do what you do to the glory of God and try to be conscious of those around you and not give offense. And you do this by seeking what is best for the many instead of what is best for yourself because you are a living, breathing example, a witness to them so that they may also come to know Jesus. That is solid. Like, that is solid and pure good advice for the way that we conduct ourselves in the various circumstances that we find ourselves in. And, so, let’s remember this today and let’s carry this with us today. Whether you eat or drink or do anything else do everything for the glory of God.
Father, we invite You into that. That is our desire, to please You, to obey You, to fellowship with You, to make You happy. And, so, Holy Spirit lead us in whatever we do today, whether we eat or drink, or anything else. May it be to Your glory and Your praise. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
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