Doing With Others in Mind
1Cor. 10:31 ¶ So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
1Cor. 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
1Cor. 10:33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
Paul felt he had great freedoms in Christ, however, he also realized that he had to take responsibility for the people around him. That burden became so great that he evaluated his actions through the lens of helping others. Personal rights were given up for the glory of God. The potential existed that his context could change on a daily basis. One day he may have been ministering among the Jews, the next to the Greeks, and the next he may have been in the church. In each location he may have responded differently. Why? Because his goal was not to please himself, but to help others come to know Jesus Christ. He wanted God to be glorified in his life through the salvation of those around him. Therefore he never pushed his own personal "rights" and instead was willing to adjust his lifestyle on a daily basis because he had others in mind.
This attitude of doing with others in mind is not very popular these days. Instead it seems that many are pushing the issue of their personal rights -- especially those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ. Possibly it's push-back against what may have been viewed as constraints of the past. In a desire to push out of boundaries that we may have felt were crushing, we have gone to the opposite extreme and have taken complete liberty, and this, at times, to the detriment of others. There is no thought of others in mind, instead there is simply the focus on self and at times the statement, "I deserve to do this."
I'm really afraid that there aren't very many these days that have the kind of focus that we find here in Paul. His desire was that others around him would come to know Christ. His daily activities bore in mind the fact that he wanted to bring others to him. What would happen if that neighbor of yours wanted to know more about Christ and wanted to come to church with you, but you had planned to go to the lake over the weekend to relax with your family? What kind of a choice would you make? That may not sound fair but regular church attendance in the US is dropping to an all-time low. It's not just about this weekend at the lake, it's about every weekend somewhere! Would our neighbors be able to monitor our activities and determine that we are followers of Jesus Christ? Would our life-style help to draw them to following him?
Paul harps a great deal on sexual immortality in this letter to the Corinthians as well. Why? Because it was hurting the witness and testimony of the fledgling church. Contemporary culture has put its seal of approval on almost every single type of sexual behavior. Hollywood has made getting married before having children a thing of the past. But we have to ask ourselves whether this means that we have the freedom to behave in a way in which the world would approve, or whether we are called to have a higher purpose in mind. Paul was certainly making that point with the Corinthians. The lifestyle to which he was calling them was completely counter-cultural. And it was a lifestyle in which others were in mind.
What am I doing today for others?
Lord, please help me to be a reflection of you to my world -- with others in mind. Amen.