1 Corinthians 10:27-28a, 29-31; 11:1 - 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 ... So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
This devotion is an elaboration of this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon of the same title, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
People who love you will sometimes tell you "No." They'll say, "No, don't eat that ... don't say that ... you're wearing that!?" Or, when you say, "No," they'll say "yes." "Yes, you should do something about it ... Yes, you should say something ... Yes, it's time to go." People who love you don't always approve of your decisions. But that doesn't mean they don't love you.
Some people think that approval equals love—that love and approval are the same thing. The Bible, however, would have us see things differently. For example, consider the Scripture passage we just heard. It's an excerpt from the apostle Paul's first letter to the followers of Jesus living in ancient Corinth. In this letter, Paul shows us that love is greater than approval.
Now, to win approval in ancient Corinth, you had to go to the pagan temple, pander to the powerful, patronize the temple prostitutes, and feast on the sacrificed meat. And some Christians in Corinth were ready to play along. They wanted approval. So, they accommodated themselves to the culture. Others wanted nothing to do with it and they stayed away from anyone associated with it. They isolated themselves from their unbelieving neighbors. Both of these options—accommodation and isolation—are failures to love says Paul. Don't isolate yourselves, he says. If an unbelieving neighbor invites you to dinner—go, enjoy yourself. But, just because you're there, that doesn't mean you have to approve of everything they say or do. You should be respectful. You shouldn't try to offend. But, you don't always have to affirm or celebrate their choices because love is greater than approval.
Jesus Himself is the supreme example of this. His cross is the clearest expression of God's disapproval of our sin, of our old way of life. In Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, God said "No" to our choice of sin and death. Jesus disapproved of our choices because He loves us. And Jesus loves, even when we don't approve of how He loves us. Jesus is our example as we strive to love our unbelieving neighbors. We neither isolate nor simply accommodate.
Yes, it's difficult. But, it's not much different than what true friends and loving family members do for us all the time. They may disagree, they may disapprove, but they still find ways to love. And, with Christ as our example—even more, with Christ living in us, we can do the same for our unbelieving neighbors.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, live in me so that I can love like You. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. When are you tempted to isolate from or accommodate yourself to the surrounding culture?
2. Share an everyday example of someone showing disapproval while also showing love.
3. Why can't approval equal love? How is love greater than approval?
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