Setting Examples

Ordinary Time
January 26, 2018

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. ‘Food will not bring us close to God.’ We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. –1 Corinthians 8:7-13

I had a neighbor several years ago who did not attend movies in theaters. He watched them regularly on television. When I asked him about this behavior, he quoted the above scripture to me. A minister I knew apparently regularly was seen entering a theater dedicated solely to showing pornography. He argued his transparency in action was admirable. Of course, he saw nothing wrong with his choice of entertainment. We must be constantly aware of the examples we set for others, and we must not rigidly follow practiced that tend more to make us appear self-righteous. God never promised us free will would be easy.

Now I do think we should pay heed to Paul’s advice, and we might need to do some self-examination of our behavior. In the name of hospitality, churches are notorious for constantly putting food, often unhealthy food, before us and encouraging us to eat it. Do we have any responsibility to at least offer a healthy, lower calorie choice at such times? How do we deal with serving alcoholic beverages in our home when we know our guest is a recovering addict? Gambling seems just a waste of money to me, but I love to watch horses race and attend concerts the music of some of my favorite performers; both activities are often available for watching at venues whose major enterprise is gambling. Paul, I think is saying when we sense the need to decide something we think might be misconstrued we need to err on the side of caution.

Prayer: Lord, help me be intentional in the way I present myself to others weighing the well-being of others against my personal desires. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.