To Eat or Not to Eat
Paul continues with his discussion of the importance of the person over any particular practice. Here are verses 14-18: “14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Paul is going back to the idea of the acceptability of eating meat that has been offered to idols. Some thought that eating this meat was “unclean” and forbidden by God. But Paul recognized that whether or not you eat the meat is not the issue. The issue is what impact your decisions have on your brother. If you know that eating meat offered to idols offends your brother, then it is better for you to abstain from eating that meat. Note again the words, “Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died”. There is going to be a tension here from time to time. God desires that our lives and actions be characterized by righteousness and peace and joy. These are the weightier matters. As you and I evaluate our actions and attitudes, we can ask ourselves if they lead to righteousness, peace and joy for ourselves and for others. If not, we should abstain. God’s word consistently calls us to put the interests of others ahead of our own. If we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit and not our own fleshly desires, we may or may not end up eating the meat, but we will end up pleasing our God.