S (Scripture): 1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other…29b For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience?
O (Observation): I don’t want to take this out of context, but I also want to keep this simple. Paul is talking about whether or not to eat food that is sacrificed to idols.
If someone sacrifices food to an idol, it is okay to eat it, because all food is made for consumption. However, if someone sees you eating food sacrificed to an idol, you can make them think that you are worshipping the idol. That’s not helpful. That doesn’t build up.
So, Paul suggests this: think not only of yourself, but also think of the other. Will eating this food cause another to stumble and worry? If so, why not avoid it for now?
V. 29 points out part of the reasoning here: I wouldn’t want someone else’s conscience to control my liberty, so why should my conscience capture someone else’s liberty? He’s certainly not saying that “anything goes.” Rather, he is showing that the Christian faith is not to be forced on anyone. Rather, through hospitality and thinking of the neighbor’s conscience, we invite others into our faith.
A (Application): This point of the other’s conscience cannot be stressed enough these days. Just because I believe more liberally, doesn’t mean that I get to force my viewpoints onto others. And the same goes for those with a more conservative bent.
Unfortunately, these conversations / arguments we have online go directly to “defeating our opponent,” rather than trying to understand our neighbor. Instead of asking questions, we make assumptions. Instead of seeking clarity, we make judgments. Win at all costs.
This “win at all costs” mentality comes from a lack of considering our neighbor’s conscience. We want them to believe our way is best, thus holding the other captive.
I don’t want us to avoid truth. I want us to consider how we handle the truth we believe we have. Think of the other, as well as yourself. Don’t allow your conscience to hold captive that of another.
P (Prayer): Lord, give us wisdom to know the truth and to share it with kindness. Amen.