1 Corinthians 10:23-31

I think one of the great threats to us today is the thought that our lives don’t matter. We live, work and play comparing ourselves to others. Our facebook post compared to theirs. We see stories of people whose business goes better so we feel down and depressed, maybe even worthless. We feel we have to achieve a certain level to be important. 

We can do the same thing spiritually, thinking that where we are and what we do doesn’t really matter to God. I am not a pastor or missionary, and where I work doesn’t have any bearing on God’s kingdom. It’s all for naught. It just doesn’t matter. 

You may feel so disconnected from God that you end up doing things you shouldn’t do. This can create greater problems. It may be beyond what you normally experience.  We are in an important passage that shows God cares about every part of life, and that he is to be honored in every part of life. That means that what we do in each part of life matters, it matters to God and it matters how we do it. 

This passage shows us the importance of all that we do, and how all that we do can be done for God’s glory and the upbuilding of other people. It means everything matters, and we ought to give God glory in every part of life. 

This passage addresses eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Questions have been raised about this and we are told those idols are nothing and what matters is serving God and doing what brings others to faith in Christ. 


All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 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. 28 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– 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 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. (1 Corinthians 10:23-1 ESV)

  1. Everything is the Lords and Everything is for Him. 

V23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

This phrase is repeated here. It has been repeated in other chapters of this letter. This saying reflects the freedom in Christianity. We are set free from the law. We are not bound to it. We are not saved by our obedience to the law. But that does not mean we cast away the Word of God. True freedom in Christ makes us want to apply God’s law. We can do whatever we want but the desire is that we do what honors God, the desire is that we do what is helpful to others and to build others up. The desire is that we seek to build up and not tear others down.

In regards to eating we can eat and do whatever we want. 

25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 

26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 

The specific issue mentioned here is that people are going shopping and the only meat they can find is meat that has been sacrificed to idols and/or they go to friends houses for dinner and the friend tells them the meat has been offered to Zeus. What do you do? Do you not go? If you eat have you worshiped another God? 

Paul says eat whatever is before you. Everything is the Lords Psalm 22. Your buying is not a participation in the worship service to that God. If you are at a dinner and someone says the meat has been offered in sacrifice, then don’t eat. Not for your sake but for the sake of the one offering it. 

It doesn’t belong to an idol, another God. All of it is God’s so eat and give him thanks. Monotheism in expression. Not scared by idols. Not frantically covering all bases. Everything done for one purpose and to one end, one God. 

What God tells his church here is pretty amazing. He shows there is a freedom in what we do. There are many options for glorifying God. You can eat or not eat. And with that when we can honor God and build up other people we have a right course of action to take. 

V31 “Whatever you do, do it to the glory of God.” If you have not memorized this verse then memorize it. It means everything you do matters. It means it matters how you do it. 

Eating in the market, selling cars, wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, political activism. Working in a small church or big church, singing on stage of thousands or your parents. 

Tyndale “no difference in pouring water, washing dishes, being a cobbler or an apostle, as touching to please God there is no difference.”

Rid yourself of rotten thoughts. Rotten figs. That parts of life don’t matter. That parts of life aren’t important. That parts of life don’t need to be brought into conformity to who God is. 

  1. The goal is the glory of God. 

“Do it to the glory of God.”

That is your purpose.

Glorifying God is making much of him. When that fan is decked out in the team colors, painted up, and celebrating the victory they are glorying in their team. But it goes beyond just a passionate celebration. We make much of God by seeking to follow him and be like him. We do that by honoring God and serving other people. Note the emphasis of serving others in this passage. We want to build them up and make them strong. 

What you glory in you will convert people to. Football team. Favorite band. Political party. Go over your facebook posts and see if they say more about the greatness of God or the greatness of your political party. There is an objective criteria. 

  1. It means we do not do things that others do

IF we want to glorify him it means we do what he says. We obey his words. We work like he calls us to work. Truthfulness and integrity. If you are lying at work you are not glorifying God. 

Our end goal is so important. Everything else lines up with that. If your main goal is money then your won’t care about anything else. 

I remember at my last church we had some students from John Hopkins, one of the best schools in the country. I was talking to a medical student and asked what he was going to do. He said, “I’m going to make a lot of money.” What about helping people? “Yeah, that too, I guess.” 

If God’s glory is our driving desire it will set us on the right course. It will spare us from many pitfalls. It will also empower us to overcome many setbacks. 

Mission statement that didn’t mean.

  1. It means we do certain things.

Athletes overcome significant hurdles to get their new contract. People work hard selling their house to get what they want for it. What are you willing to do to glorify God? Are you willing to do hard things and do it in a hard way?

Teens. What can you do to honor God? Videos. 

What can you do to make others say, “Wow!” A friend shared a picture of her teen girl who writes a verse or point from the Sunday message and then paints a beautiful picture on top to go with it and then gives it to someone to encourage them. 

Motivates you. Energizes you. Like a nuclear factory in your heart and mind. 

Do you view serving God like taking out the trash. I do that on Thursday night and no need to do it before or after. Don’t need to do more than I have to. Or do you view it as the joy of your life. Do you find it hard to contain? This is what it means to be converted to Christ. Dead religion says I have to and you do as little as possible. Following Christ means you are looking for opportunities to make him great. Even sacrificing other things.

  1. Fuels us to overcome hurdles. 

It also means protection from others judging us. You are going to be judged. It may be for not doing something, or for doing something. It may be for legitimate mistakes you have made. It may be for being a christian. Maybe the color of your skin, being a girl, being from the nice part of town or from the not so nice part of town. People can twist anything. But if you focus on honoring God that is all that matters. If you are trying to please others you are going to be devastated by the things people say. 

Find your spiritual ambition! How are you making Christ known? What do you long for God to do? Too many people have no longing for God. Too many people don’t have a burden to glorify God. Your longings are revealed in your prayer life. What do you pray for? Do you simply pray for your next surgery? Do you just pray for your kids to get to the next grade? 

Paul didn’t back down from mission when people disagreed with him. Didn’t back down when he was reviled for being Jewish. Didn’t back down when he was shipwrecked. Didn’t back down when he went homeless or sleepless. 

Pray for revival!

  1. Winning Others

This is a goal in all you do. The result of making much of God is that others want to know him. They see his worth and excellency. Paul strove for this. It was about selling his quota of tents. 

This passage reminds us a part of glorifying God is seeking to win others to Christ. That is part of the church’s mission statement: we want to make a difference in the life of others. We have talked a lot about it. We need help in this area. It reminds the bigger things in life: honoring God. seeking to win others. You have a purpose in life. If you ever feel like your work is meaningless and that you have a greater purpose that punching numbers in a spreadsheet, or chasing down people sneaking onto the company’s network, or making sales, you probably feel that way because you do have a greater purpose. You don’t have to move to another country or join the Peace Corp. You simply need to embrace God’s purpose where you are at. You are called and created to make disciples of all nations. God calls you to help others know him. If you don’t do that there is disobedience, but there is also an emptiness. 

Dad’s sometimes feel like the only thing I do is go to work and try to make enough money to provide for my kids. If I were to die and they got the life insurance policy they would have more money and be better off. You are more than just making money. And you may feel that way because you have neglected your duty to disciple your family. Embrace what God has called you to do. 

Not seeking his own profit. V33. Willing to lay down money for Christ. That makes Christ great. Willing to earn less so others might know him. That is counter cultural. We often want Christ to make our dreams come true. This makes Jesus our little do-boy rather than our glorious king. 

Imitators of me, as I follow Christ. v11.1

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Whose example are you learning from? In Christianity it’s not just what you believe but how you live. 

Jesus said of the Pharisees listen to their teaching but do not do what they do. Therefore do whatever they tell you and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. (Mat 23:3 CSB)

Can talk about reaching the lost. Can quote Scripture and talk about what to do. But you are not doing it. 

This is a significant area for us to grow in. We have not reached many people since I have been here. I don’t think many people were reached before I got here. I don’t think the church in America is really reaching people. I think we need to change this. We need to press in hard to what discipleship looks like




Reading the word and talking about it with others. Where are you convicted? What do you need to do? You know if you start talking about where God is changing you it is like a bolt of lightning. I don’t know how to get us talking and sharing on that. 

I think Corona may be forcing us to make changes we should have made before but didn’t do it. People are not coming to church. They are not coming to small group. We need to go to them. People don’t respond to mass email. They do respond to an individual text. We may need to reach and disciple like that. 

How many people have you won to Christ? I’m embarrassed by that. I’m embarrassed that we have not made more progress in this area. And I don’t know what to do. 

We imitate Christ. Note it is not enough to just believe what he said. You follow him. You follow him in laying down your life. You follow him in sacrificial obedience to Christ. You follow him in laying down your life for others and discipling others.

I want you to long for this change. Have the spiritual ambition to long to do this, to be a church that is doig this. 

What are you doing to bring God glory? How are you doing in that? If that is your life purpose do you want prayer for it?

Discussion Questions

  1. What parts of your life seem like they may not be significant or that the Lord is not interested in? How does this passage change your perception?
  2. How does glorifying God change what Paul and the Corinthians do or not do? How does it change what you do?
  3. How does God want us to use our freedom in Christ (v33)?
  4. What do you need to do to follow Christ (and Paul’s example) in saving others?