July 16, 2023

Do All to the Glory of God


How to Glorify God in Gray Matters

Matters of conscience can be complex and not so easy to navigate. Yet when we understand a few basic principles we will have a grid that will help us to make choices about which we can be confident are glorifying to the Lord.

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Sermon Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn once again to 1st Corinthians, Chapter 10. This will be our last time turning to Chapter 10, Lord Willing, and we’ll enter Chapter 11, where we’ll be for a while. Chapter 10, verse 23 down to Chapter 11, one is our text. 11:1 is an unfortunate chapter break 11:1 should actually be chapter 10, verse 34. That’s the end of the unit as we’ll see. Well, follow along as I read 1st Corinthians 10. Beginning in verse 23. 

All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you this has been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you. And for the sake of conscience, I do not mean your conscience, but his for why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience if I partake with thankfulness? Why am I denounced because of that, for which I give thanks? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all. To the glory of God. Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks, or to the Church of God. Just as I try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own advantage, but that of the many that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 

Well, for the past several weeks, we’ve been giving our attention to the topic that we’ve entitled Gray Matters, or issues of conscience, things that Scripture doesn’t specifically spell out in black and white as matters of sin and righteousness, and about which the Christian has a measure of freedom in his choices. And we’ve discovered that the myriad of issues that fall into that category are not unimportant at all. If they were, Paul would not have spent such a large portion of this letter on them, all the way from Chapter 8, verse one to Chapter 11, verse one. All of life is worship for the Christian, and God is concerned that we think biblically and carefully about everything that we do, and that very notion is what’s captured in that familiar verse 31, which summarizes all that Paul has said in these three chapters: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. You know that verse is likely just behind John 3:16 in the running for the most oft-quoted verses in all of Scripture. It’s the basis for that first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (the only question that most Christians even know!), What is the chief end of man? And the answer: To glorify God and to enjoy him forever. But the problem with that is that even though this idea is so well known, this idea of glorifying God, it’s the very crux of the Christian life. It’s the highest and most noble aspiration that anyone could aspire to, and yet it’s the one that we’re most naturally disinclined to pursue. We may have been originally created to glorify God and to enjoy him forever, but as we well know, due to original sin, our natural inclination is to glorify self and to enjoy ourselves as long as we can, at least before we’re judged, right? And we see this in our culture’s constant push for self-autonomy at all costs. But as radical as it may seem, in the world around us, this is really nothing new. We see it in every century. We see it in every culture since the fall of man into sin, which is the reason why this section of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the believers at Corinth in the 1st century is so applicable to us. Despite the fact that the issue of meat sacrificed to idols may be unfamiliar to us, the underlying issue of the human heart behind this is exactly the same, and therefore, no matter what the gray matter may be that we face, the principles of application are readily relevant to us. 

Now just to remind ourselves of the context here, one final time, remember that back in Chapter 7, verse one, the apostle Paul began to answer a number of questions that had been put to him by the Corinthians in a letter that they apparently sent to him, addressing a number of issues. And beginning in Chapter 8, verse one, he took up their question regarding meat that had been sacrificed to idols. And remember that prior to Paul’s coming to Corinth, the Apostolic decree from the Council at Jerusalem had called believers to abstain from eating things that had been sacrificed to idols, and it seems that the believers at Corinth were pushing back against that, arguing that if it’s true that there’s only one God, and therefore, there’s no such thing as a false God, then the idols that represent those so-called false gods are nothing. And therefore, it should be just fine for them to participate in eating that food sacrificed to idols. But remember that Paul got to the heart of the issue in Chapter 10 that we looked at last Lord’s Day, explaining that the prohibition about eating food sacrificed to idols primarily concerned attendance at a pagan temple where the sacrifice was actually taking place. And the reason why they were pushing back against this prohibition is because, as we saw, the temple was the hub of social activity. It was like the Community Center, so anytime there was a festivity, a wedding, whatever, that’s where people would gather, and they didn’t want to miss out on all of that. They didn’t want to offend people. They didn’t want to give up relationships and miss out on fun, and so forth. But Paul told them that when you do that and you participate, you’re actually participating in the worship of demons because even though there is no such thing as a false God and therefore the idols that represent them are nothing (that is indeed true), the fact remains that Satan and his demons are real, and they’re behind every form of falsehood and false worship. 

And even though they understood all of this, there were other Christians who hadn’t grasped these concepts. And the problem was that there were weaker Christians whose consciences were defiled even by seeing someone eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols at some point in time. And if they were to see a fellow believer eating that meat, they might well be emboldened to eat it themselves, and they might even get sucked back into their former Pagan idolatry. As we’ve seen, that’s what he went over in Chapter 8 and then in chapter nine, he expanded that principle to show that eating meat sacrificed to idols could actually be a hindrance to the gospel for unbelievers, whether they be Jews or Gentiles. And throughout that chapter, Paul used himself as an example of how a Christian must be careful about how he chooses to make choices about these sorts of gray matters, and how they could affect others. 

And so, I say all that very quickly to bring us back up to speed about where we are because this passage that we just read. Is the final section of instruction that serves as a sort of summary of everything that Paul has said in all of these three chapters, tying it all together under this rubric of doing all things to the glory of God. And Paul actually gives seven imperatives in these verses, but we’re going to combine those under four headings, and we’re going to call them four ways to glorify God in gray matters, because that’s his point. How do we glorify God in all things, and really, in the context, what he’s talking about there is gray matters. So, four ways we glorify God in gray matters that really are going to serve as principles for us for any issue that may come across. 

The first one is this. That we must be sacrificial. We must be sacrificial, and this is the overarching principle that has governed this entire section, and that is that, you know, really the summary, it’s really what it means to glorify God. Ultimately, this is the main primary thing. If you take anything away get this one: you are called to stop being selfish and instead be selfless and sacrificial. You remember that throughout the past few chapters, we’ve noted that at times Paul quotes some of the statements of the Corinthians. He he’s answering the questions that they had in their letter and so he’ll quote them and then he’ll give a rebuttal. And we have one of those quotes here in verse 23. In fact, if you have the ESV, you’ll note that it helpfully puts those words in quotation marks. The words there are all things are lawful. All things are lawful. This is not Paul’s words. I’m convinced this is the words of the Corinthians. We saw the same thing back in Chapter 6 and verse 12, in fact, look back there very quickly. Chapter 6 and verse 12. Paul says almost the same exact thing. He’s quoting them. All things are lawful for me. But not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything. Here in verse 23 of Chapter 10, he says all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. And we noted back there that the Corinthians had an aberrant concept of Christian freedom that we called (I like to call it anyways), convenient confusion. It’s really a mixing of human wisdom with the word of God and coming up with loopholes–coming up with reasons why it’s okay for us to participate in certain things that might otherwise be forbidden. And with the Corinthians, they were taking this to the extreme that they would say even sexual immorality was lawful, and so they were tolerating that. Some of them were even participating in that. And Paul had to come down on them. And he says there, no glorify God with your body. And here the issue is idolatry. And he’s saying, no, don’t do that. Flee from idolatry and glorify God in whatever you do. 

But while Christians are indeed free to make choices about things. He tells them that all things are certainly not lawful. There are certain things that are clearly prohibited by Scripture. And that’s why we have to flee from things like sexual immorality and idolatry and all the other things that Scripture makes clear and plain to us. But even in the realm of gray matters about which a Christian is technically free to make some decisions on his own, there’s an overarching principle that has to govern this. It’s not like we’re just free to do whatever we want. There’s this overarching principle. And it is the principle of sacrifice that has to govern those decisions. We must be aware of our bent towards selfishness and, by the way, as we’ve noted through our study, we must be aware of our culture’s constant push for selfishness and self-autonomy that’s constantly trying to infiltrate us through our phones, through the Internet, through the television, all sorts of things. The world is constantly pushing these things upon us, and so we have to be aware of that and we have to be aware of that tendency that’s just baked into our natural inclination and instead realize that God calls us to deny ourselves and to glorify God. And Paul is saying that that practically works itself out by doing good to our neighbor. Remember when Jesus was cornered by the Jewish leaders and they said, hey, what’s the greatest commandment in all of Scripture? And Jesus doesn’t hesitate, he says. It is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And there’s a second that’s like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. And that’s what Paul is saying here. We glorify God by loving other people and sacrificing for them, and especially for our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

You know, when we view our Christian freedom as a license to do whatever we want–which is what so many Christians do in America. We think that as long as things aren’t clearly forbidden in Scripture, then we can get as close to the line as possible, and we’re still not sinning–you know when you do that, you’re just displaying how pathetically immature you really are. That’s immaturity. You want a definition of immaturity? You want a definition of something that is un-Christlike? It’s exactly that, and isn’t that what we’ve seen? I mean, if you’ve been a member of a church for any amount of time, you’ve seen church splits and division and all sorts of things. Guess where those things come from? They come from this sort of attitude. I want it my way. I want my preference. I don’t care who it offends. That’s exactly what we see in the weakness of the church in America, and we see that that’s being perpetuated by leaders who want to tickle the felt needs of people, right? Come to church, and we’ll give you what you want. And so, it’s just perpetuating that immaturity. And Paul confronts that aberrant ethic of self here with a rebuttal. No, no, no. Yes, all things that aren’t specifically prohibited in Scripture may be lawful, but not all things are helpful. And they certainly don’t build up. Instead, they’re actually hindrances to others and they could potentially tear others down. 

So, here’s the deal. The mature Christian understands that his freedom in Christ is not a license to please himself, but it’s a license–it’s a freedom–to have the ability to make choices that benefit others. That’s what Christian freedom is really about. It’s the freedom to deny myself with a clear conscience. And as he said in the very first verse of this section, back in chapter 8:1, knowledge which forms the basis of a clear conscience that gives us confidence about freedom in Christ will only puff us up if it’s not tempered by love. Remember that? Look back at chapter 8. Note what he says there: Now, concerning food offered to idols, we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Now here in our passage, verses 23 and 24 are the reminder once again of that same truth that is so beautifully portrayed in Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3 through 4. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. That’s what Paul is saying. Look, you may be free. But guess what? If you use that freedom as a license to do whatever you want, you’re just going to steamroll over other people. Using your freedom in that way is not helpful. It actually is destructive. And you need to stop thinking of yourself and think of others and do good to others. 

Now, that’s the first principle. That’s the overarching principle. We could just sort of stop there, but Paul doesn’t. He’s actually going to flesh this out for us, and it’s very helpful because what he’s going to do is give us a couple of scenarios here that serve as sort of test cases that we can use for any sort of gray matter that we come across. And so the first principle is that we must be sacrificial. 

Secondly, I want you to see that we must be sensible with our freedom. We must be sensible in verses 25 through 26. It’s interesting to me that immediately after Paul once again is hammering home this idea of sacrifice that’s been the theme all throughout, he balances this out with the reminder that we do indeed have genuine freedom in Christ, and we must indeed be confident in the knowledge we possess and be confident of our freedom in Christ, while being careful to limit it for the sake of others. And so, like I said, in verses 25 down through 27, Paul presents these two hypothetical situations that are test cases for us. And the first one has to do with shopping at the meat market. He says, okay, look, you’re shopping at the meat market and much of the meat that was sold in the meat market, as we’ve noted in our past studies, had indeed been sacrificed to idols. It was leftover, and the priests were like, hey, we can make some money on this. So, they’d sell it in the meat market. So, you have meat there that may or may not have been offered to an idol. It’s a mix. And Paul says when you’re shopping, don’t ask the butcher questions about where the meat came from. Don’t say, hey, which one was sacrificed to idols? Don’t say hey, could you put little flags on there to tell me which one is this or that? He says no, just go and buy the meat and go home and barbecue and eat it to the glory of God. Don’t worry about it. And it’s interesting. He says, don’t raise questions on the ground of conscience, and he’s talking about your own conscience here, I think. And what’s interesting is that we tend to think that he’s saying something like, well, ignorance is bliss. You know, don’t load up your conscience by asking questions, because then you’re going to be like, well, should I eat it or not, and so forth. But that’s not what Paul says. The reasoning behind it is in verse 24, which is a quotation from Psalm 24 verse one, he says. I’m sorry I’m in the wrong verse, verse 26: For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. That’s a quotation of Psalm 24:1 that was used by the Jews as a prayer of thanksgiving for their food that recognized that God is the creator of everything, and therefore he’s the owner of everything. And so, the point is that regardless of what anyone has done with that meat prior to its finding its way into the meat market, God owns it. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what’s been done to it, it belongs to the one true God, and so eat it and enjoy it, because God has given us all good things to enjoy, and do it to his glory. And this of course applies to any gray matter we come across. We need to realize that we have genuine freedom and we don’t need to constantly be asking questions about things and being paranoid and so forth. 

But as we’re sensible in exercising our freedom with a clear conscience, here’s a third principle we also must be sensitive. We must be sensitive. We see this in verses 28 and following, and I want you to note the second scenario here (actually verse 27, back up just a little bit). Paul moves from the sphere of the grocery store or the meat market to the confines of an unbeliever’s home. Notice what he says. If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you’re disposed to go (I mean, you could just translate that you want to go) then go, Paul says. That’s fine. And we learn something interesting here. One, Paul is not saying that if someone invites you to dine at the temple of an idol, it’s okay all of a sudden–he’s not being inconsistent. That’s off limits. You don’t go to the idol temple. But if an unbeliever invites you over to their own private home for a barbecue or invites you to some other neutral location or whatever, you’re free to go. Paul says the only thing holding you back is whether you want to or not. And when you go, don’t raise questions there for conscience sake. Eat whatever is set before you. Don’t worry about it. 

But he throws in a monkey wrench in verse 28. Notice that everything’s going along just fine. Don’t ask questions. You know, they set meat before you–it’s all kinds of stuff, you know. Don’t ask any questions. Don’t say hey, you know, was this possibly sacrificed? Don’t worry about it. Just eat it. But then he says, But if someone says to you this has been offered and sacrifice, then do not eat it. Don’t eat it. At that point, you’re not free to eat it. Why not? I mean, you’re still free, but you shouldn’t. That’s the idea. Why not? The reason why is given very clearly: for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of conscience. And he makes it clear with those two rhetorical questions that it’s not for the sake of your conscience, but for the sake of the other’s. He’s kind of doubling back to what he’s already said about being sensible and, you know, being clear and confident about your knowledge of what’s true and right and all, all those sorts of things–being confident in your freedom. He says, I don’t mean your conscience, but his, for why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? And so, look, this this is not some legalistic thing where you know, we are limiting things and allowing other’s preferences and things to rule us. What we’re doing is functioning in love. We’re functioning in love. We’re willingly limiting our liberty for the sake of someone else. Because here’s the issue. 

Who is it that’s asking this question? Well, some people think that it is another believer, say a weaker believer and they’re at the meal with you and. You know, they were about ready to eat the meat, and he whispers–you know, he’s in a panic. He’s starting to sweat–and he says, hey, you did know, it’s been offered to idols, right? So what do you do then? Well, in that case, you wouldn’t eat. And why not? For the sake of your brother, right? Because if he is a weaker brother, you might embolden him to violate his conscience, which Romans 14 says is a sin just for him to violate his conscience, and even worse than that, he may think, hey, you do it and so it’s okay for me to do it and get sucked right back into his idolatry. This is all the things we went over back in chapter 8. And remember what Paul says there in verse 13: Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat. Remember how emphatic he said that: I’ll never eat meat again for all eternity if it causes my brother to stumble? And so, you would abstain, and you may offend the host at that point, but it may also be a gospel opportunity, because you can explain to the host what’s going on. Hey, look, we’re Christians and you know some Christians aren’t oaky with eating food that’s been sacrificed to idols. And we realize that this has been sacrificed. So thank you for inviting us. Could we eat everything else and just not this, right? And it gives a differentiation there. 

But I want you to note that Paul doesn’t actually say in the text that this is another believer. And I think that he’s left it intentionally vague because all throughout this section he’s expanded it, as we said, not to just include another believer, but also a Jew or a pagan or the Church of God, right? And so, every category is covered here. And so perhaps it’s a fellow believer. Perhaps it’s an unbelieving Jew. And an unbelieving Jew would be seriously offended if you were sitting there at a meal and he knows you’re a Christian and you’re trying to witness to him about the gospel. And yet you’re sitting there partaking of meat that’s been sacrificed to idols. You just lost him. Because he’s going to be so offended by that, how could you possibly touch that meat? And so of course you would abstain in that situation. And what about the pagan unbeliever? Well, pagans may be watching you. I think we’re not as aware as we ought to be that oftentimes the world is really watching us. Remember what Jesus said? That the that the world would know that we’re his disciples by our love for one another. And the world is watching us all the time. And I think that sometimes we’re in situations like that and we have unbelievers that are just watching to see what we’ll do. And sometimes they may even be testing us, and if we go ahead and eat the meat that’s been sacrificed to idol, well, he may come to the conclusion that yeah, that Jesus that they talk about is just like Serapis and all the other false gods, and justice, go ahead and lump it all in the same category. And so even if it’s an unbeliever who brings that to your attention, I think the intent here is that you would abstain and you would explain why and use it as a gospel opportunity. So whatever context you’re in, you have to be sensitive to the situation, and this is not situation ethics. We’re not talking about ethics here. We’re talking about being sensitive. We’re talking about exercising our freedom, but being aware that whatever situation we’re in, there may be people who might be offended. Something might be a stumbling block. Something might be a hindrance to the gospel. And so, we’re willing to give up whatever it takes for those people, regardless of who they are. 

You know, it’s hard for us to find a one to one correspondence to meet sacrificed to idols in our day and age. But something that definitely is one of these gray areas is alcohol, for instance, right? I mean, alcohol has been so pervasive in our society, and it’s been, you know, such a cause of people to stumble and so forth. And so early on in my Christian life, and especially as a pastor, I made the decision that I was just going to abstain from alcohol at all times. I don’t have it in my house. I don’t order it when I’m out. I don’t take it when someone offers it to me. If I go out to a meal with you and you want to have alcohol, it’s totally fine with me. I don’t care. Doesn’t bother me at all. I know I’m free to partake if I want–the prohibition of Scripture is, do not be drunk with wine. It doesn’t say you can’t drink wine or alcoholic beverages and so I don’t, mind it, it’s no problem with my conscience. But I abstain because it just helps me to keep from being a stumbling block no matter where I am. It’s just kind of one of those big issues that I don’t have to worry about. You know, if I’m at a restaurant and I order this big Margarita or something, and I’m just enjoying myself there. And one of our parishioners walks in and sees Pastor Lloyd there enjoying a Margarita. What are they going to think? I don’t have to worry about it? They see me drinking my, you know, Coke Zero and it’s all good, right? Doesn’t even have sugar in it! 

Well, I’ll give you just a quick example. I was at a wedding recently. And it was a wedding of unbelievers. And I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of unbelievers. And the man comes by with the champagne bottle to fill up the little cup, right? And usually at Christian weddings I’ve been to, most of the time they have champagne and like, you know the Martinelli’s grape juice or whatever, right? They ask which one do you want? Well, they only had champagne, so my knee jerk reaction, which I had to catch myself on, was to say no, no, no, I’m good, you know. And then the guy walks by and I think, wait a second. We’re going to do a toast with. And so, I said wait, come back here. Come back here. So I had him fill my cup up and when we did the toast, I drank the champagne. Now, why did I do that? Well, because I’m looking around and I don’t see any other believers there that are going to be offended by this, and who’s going to be offended? Everybody there when they see me, the only one who’s not doing the toast right. And so I’m like, you know what? I’m not going to make an issue out of this, I’m just going to go with it. Nothing wrong with that. And so I was trying to be sensitive to the situation. But let’s say there was another brother sitting there with me. And maybe I knew particularly his background and maybe he used to be an alcoholic or something like that. And I’m, thinking, okay, if I drink this, what is that going to do to him? Well, at that point, I probably would have abstained. 

So that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about. We’re in particular situations that we’re looking out for other people. We’re not thinking about ourselves. We’re not just doing whatever we want. I’m not going to invite you to my house and crack open a six pack because I don’t know your background, right? And so we have to think about these things and be careful. Be sensitive. So we need to be sacrificial and we need to be sensible and we need to be sensitive. 

The last one, I want you to see, and will wrap up here. is that we need to be sanctified. Sanctified. Paul wraps up this summary section of the letter with that overarching command. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Notice that? Sort of like drawing this all up: Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do to all to the glory of God. Now you probably have that verse memorized, but now you have some context for it. In the past, you probably thought, you know, I’m going to drink this glass of water to the glory of God. Whatever that means, right? It doesn’t mean that. It’s not just saying like, well, you know, in even the little mundane things of life, you know, do them to the glory of God. Well, I don’t even know what that means, okay? What he means in the context is that if something you’re eating or drinking is a gray matter, then approach it to the glory of God. Which means that you’re going to be willing to sacrifice. And you’re going to be sensible and you’re going to be sensitive so that, as he says, in the very next verse, you’ll give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the Church of God, which is all humanity, right? You have Jews, you have Greeks, which is really a word that’s a synonym for gentiles, which means the nations. So you have all people, all people are in those two categories in Scripture, right? You’re either a Jew or you’re the nations. And then you have the Church of God, which is the new humanity that brings those two together. So he’s saying here, whether it’s an unbelieving Jew or an unbelieving Gentile or Greek or whatever–or another fellow believer, you’re looking out for everybody. The one person you’re not looking out for is yourself. And that’s what it literally means to glorify God. 

You know, the word glory has the idea of being weighty. And you know, we typically think that means to praise God or, I love what John Piper has said so often: make much of God, and it definitely does mean that. But I view that as sort of the product of what we do. But the substance of what we do, what we’re really doing when we sacrifice for the good of other people, is we’re being like God. Why do I say that? Well, the second person of the Triune God gave up the glory of heaven, didn’t he? He sacrificed everything and walked those steps of humility down to die in the place of lowly sinners. And to die, not just any death, but the most excruciating, humiliating death possible at the cross for us. And so why would we ever think that it’s too much for us to sacrifice for someone else? You know, brothers and sisters, this is what we’re called to be. We’re called to be sanctified, which that word means to be Christlike. To be like the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who gave himself for us. And that’s why Paul says be imitators of me. And he qualifies that. He doesn’t say, hey, guys, look, I’ve got it all figured out. Watch me. You know, I’m the man. Just watch me. You’re all good? No, he says in so much as I’m following Christ, you follow me. Because what Paul was by God’s sovereign design was a template for us. We’re constantly being called to watch Paul–to watch what he does. And to watch other people that are doing things like Paul does. Why? Because they’re endeavoring to be like Jesus Christ and they give us a picture of what that means in shoe leather. And Paul says it means that instead of pleasing myself and taking my own advantage, I try to please everyone else. Of course, he doesn’t mean by that that he was a people pleaser. He’s speaking about this sort of sacrifice. In fact, Romans 15, one through 3, says:

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. For Christ did not please himself. But as it is written, the reproaches of those who. Reproached. You fell on me. 

And so, brothers and sisters, glorifying God in everything that we do means that we live like Jesus lived–that we don’t look out for ourselves, but we humble ourselves and we look out for the good of others. And so, when we think about our Christian freedom and we think about matters of conscience, those things that are gray, we’re not just free to do whatever we want. In a sense, we are. And yet that must be governed by that larger rubric of glorifying God. How can I best glorify God in this situation? And when we want to put some flesh on those bones, it means that we are first and foremost going to sacrifice for the good of other people. But we’re going to be sensible about it. We’re not going to let their conscience rule our own. We’re going to be sensible. We’re going to be confident in the knowledge that we have and not become external and legalistic. But we’re going to be those who are sensible and whatever context we find ourselves in, we’re going to be sensitive to that context and know when it’s time to limit our liberties. And in doing so we’ll be sanctified. We’ll be set apart for God’s use like our Lord Jesus, and we will indeed glorify God, whether we eat or drink or whatever we do. 

Let’s bow together. Our father in heaven, we are always amazed as we think on our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who is God eternal, and yet who was willing to humble himself to take upon humanity for us–to live a perfect life in our place, and to go to the cross and to make that great exchange where you thought of our guilt as belonging to him, and you punished him instead of us. And you thought of his righteousness as belonging to us and you have justified us and reconciled us to yourself. Oh, Father, we thank you for all that you’ve done. And we thank you that as we come to your table this morning, we come to remember that sacrifice and to do it together, remembering who we are in him. And so would you be glorified even in this, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.