“Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”
1 Corinthians 8:13
The last time I came upon a sacrifice burning on an altar to an idol was....never. Probably most believers in the
are in this category. We've heard about them, but never encountered one up
close and personal. Still there's a principle to learn and apply to our lives –
preferential treatment, not for ourselves, but for others.
Paul didn't extol the virtues of vegetarianism. He simply indicated the length he'd go to so he'd not be a stumbling block to someone else. Paul was willing to and encouraged all believers to esteem and honor others above themselves.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in love.” Romans 12:10
Let's be real, none of us has all the answers. No one possesses the
Right Way to do everything, every time. The
apostle reminds us that courtesy toward others is essential, not optional. I
doubt Paul would give a passing grade to much that is considered political
correctness. He stood by his convictions and often paid dearly for his beliefs.
Neither rude nor obnoxious even when right, Paul wouldn't flaunt his freedom to
the detriment of another.
This same letter contains the famous Love Chapter (13). For Paul, love was the greatest thing to pursue and attain. Not self-seeking, love is conscious of others and not itself. Love chooses the welfare of another at the expense of it's own liberties and freedoms. To be inconvenienced for the benefit and betterment of others is love's life style.
The motives and attitudes behind our actions are supremely important. If I do something to enhance people's perception of me, or to score points with God – forget it. Martyrdom and even altruistic endeavors meant to win public approval and affirmation are wasted effort – wood, hay and stubble. Paul talked about genuine self-sacrifice, to place others before and above ourselves because of love.
How would your life change if you chose to prefer others ahead of yourself? What difference could this make to your family relationships, marriage, work place, school, business and church life? How could this be a greater way of getting the message of God's love to other's who haven't heard?