v 10:31 – “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- In conclusion of this 3-chapter discussion, Paul now comes in for a complete landing.
- “Whether then” – Literally meaning, “whatever you do” – the “whatever” referring to the full context of what he has written in these last 3 chapters.
- Whether you eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols – which those with the knowledge of these things understand that the idols are nothing, and therefore they can neither impart nor infer any power or glory or magic juju upon that meal and so benefit the eater.
- Whether you drink – this is just a statement in relation to eating, yet had not been included thus far, but is an extension of the foundational discussion about eating meat (sacrificed to idols). If eating, then drinking should be assumed, and if that, then all aspects of the meal and, by extension, all aspects of our lives.
- Whatever you do – this is the conclusion of his thought – again mirrored in Romans 14:6,16-18,22-23 – whatever we do in our lives, we should do so with a clear conscience. The Holy Spirit weighs on our conscience and leading us away from that which is sin, and driving us to that which brings God glory. We should feed our conscience through both the reading and understanding of scripture, and by obeying our conscience, which strengthens it and helps us to learn to put our full weight in its leading.
- Do all to the glory of God – That which was already communicated in Romans 14, is reiterated here:
- That we should place as our primary focus that we are serving God directly.
- That our driving purpose, as was that of Jesus, should be only that which glorifies GOD in all things, not that which glorifies ourselves.
- This may mean that we forsake our Christian liberty – our freedom in Christ – which allows us to have that which we know is not bad for us, so long as it may harm the witness of others if they violate their God-given and Spirit-fueled conscience and partake with us.
v 10:32 – “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;”
- Give no offense – This partners with the coming statement about serving God in our actions – that we should never use our knowledge, nor our Christian liberty, to lord it over people. This comes from pride and adds nothing to our witness except that it harms those who are not in our camp.
- Either to Jews/Greeks/the church of God – This is a neat distinction. We should not focus on delineations that the world sees – skin color, national identity, nor perceived racial identity. We should see people in 3 groups:
- Jews – those who know the laws of God but are not yet Christians
- Greeks – literally just those who are not Jews and who are not yet Christians
- Church of God – those who are Christians – composed of both the Jews and Greeks noted above
v 10:33 – “just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”
- Just as I also please all men – Not a “man pleaser” as in someone who is focused on what people in the world think of him, but as someone who is acutely attuned to the attitudes and impact of what he says and does, so that God is the one who is glorified in all that he does.
- Not seeking my own profit – In our lives before God converted us, we were only ever seeking our own personal profit. Whatever glorified us, whatever satisfied us, whatever we desired, whatever the cost, this was our pursuit. Now that we have been converted, our hearts and minds no longer seek the things which glorify ourselves. When we sin and pursue these things, we realize afterward that they do not bring any lasting joy and only a reminder of our sin before our creator who died in our place to save us from the consequences of this way of thinking and our desire to please ourselves. Therefore Paul here makes the point that he does not do any of these things in a self-serving way, so that it quells anyone who may think that he is pursuing this to his own glory.
- So that they may be saved – Here is the true reason that he is willing to reject that which he is entitled to receive or pursue. As someone who has a firm understanding of what it is that God has given him, as well as the truth of scripture and its application in every day life – that he may eat whatever he wants because the idols to which it was sacrificed is nothing but a mute hunk of stone, wood, or metal – Paul may partake in any of these things with a clear conscience, but he forsakes that right for a higher calling – that of the salvation of all that he encounters. He rejects his own personal rights in these things so that his witness will remain untarnished, and so that he may have the best opportunity to present the Gospel of God with nothing hindering his communication of these truths.
v 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
- Paul now concludes his message as a reminder that he did not get this teaching and instruction from any strange or random source, but from Jesus in his own life and actions. Jesus forsook everything – his place in heaven, his glory before all, and his unapproachable beauty and purity – so that he could come down to the earth, live among his creation, serve them, grieve with them, celebrate with them, and ultimately die for them – even those who blasphemed his name, his authority, and his ministry to their own glory, God the Son died for them, while they attacked and mocked him. Jesus gave up everything to embrace the temporary madness of humanity as he was the only one who could keep the law of God perfectly, and therefore become that perfect sacrifice on behalf of his elect – to his glory and the ultimate good of every one for whom he died.
- Paul imitates Jesus the Christ in his rejection of the things that he is entitled to receive for the service of those in his circle of influence. We should mirror this sacrifice, as imitators of Paul who was an imitator of Christ.