Morning Prayer – 03.26.14
Gen. 45:16-28; 1 Cor. 8:1-13
Both of our passages share a common theme. Each involves the issue of participation in pagan culture and the blessing of God. The Lord used Joseph to bring about wisdom and prosperity to the land of Egypt. In turn, Joseph’s brothers and Jacob were not only delivered from famine and death, but were given “the best of the land of Egypt” and “the fat of the land” of this pagan nation. The Lord preserved the seed and greatly blessed His people.
Our NT lesson is dealing with meat sacrificed to idols. In Paul’s day, basically all meat sold in the marketplace was sacrificed to idols. If Christians had been forbidden to eat meat sacrificed to idols, they basically would’ve had to become vegetarians. Paul instead encourages Christians that there is one God and idols are nothing, and so take all these gifts as from the Lord with thanksgiving. Yes, they were participating at some level in pagan culture, but not on the pagan’s terms. Rather, they had knowledge that these are gifts to be received with gratitude from the one true Lord.
However, the only limitations to this participation are the demands of love. Paul says he would never eat meat again if it causes his brother to stumble. He would deny himself a good gift from the Lord for the sake of love. When we love God’s gifts more than we love our brothers and sisters, we have not received them in gratitude, but rather as idols. When we sin against our brothers, we sin against Christ.
Jesus has set us free from bondage. And yet he has set us free to become slaves in love to our brothers and to lay our lives down as He has for us.