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God’s Word for You

1 Corinthians 10:25-26 The butcher shop

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 24, 2023

25 Whatever is sold in the butcher shop, eat it without asking anything on account of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

This is Paul’s counsel especially for the weak, not for the strong. The macellum (Greek μάκελλον) was an ordinary butcher shop where the meat was sold directly to the customer. Paul wants us to know that when a Christian goes to the market, he doesn’t need to investigate the details of where the meat came from. The conscience can be and should be left out of the question altogether, because (as Psalm 24:1 says) “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

This applies to a great many things in our lives, not just the origins of our meat, vegetables, fruit, medicines, clothes, and other things. Ultimately, everything comes from the Lord. Use it without worrying whether an idol was involved. A demon can’t claim anything for himself; nor can the prince of demons. He might try to claim something with a lie, but don’t believe him. Everything on earth is the Lord’s, and everything in and under the earth is the Lord’s. A commentator wrote, “Buying food for our own table is an entirely different thing from dining at a feast that is given in honor of some idol.”

Therefore, we might restate Paul’s point with a pair of test questions:

a, Am I taking part in the worship of an idol, or,
b, Am I taking care of the needs of my household?

So if the local resale shop supports a Catholic high school, you can still buy a sweater there without feeling any pangs of guilt. If Paul counsels you to eat a steak without worrying that the cow was offered as a sacrifice to Apollo, don’t fret over whether your two dollars will help a school help to pay a fragment of a teacher’s health insurance. This is not the same thing as practicing fellowship with them. This is not a matter of contributing directly to the ministry of another church. It is using a product that is for sale.

Yet there will be weak Christians whose consciences are burdened by the things that we do. Paul will return to this point in verse 28.

Just as Psalm 24 praises God as the Maker of all things, it also warns against worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. This is at the root of the Bible’s warning against idolatry. All things God created are there to serve mankind, whether it might be reason, science, pleasure, wood, metal, gold, silver, the stock market, marital sex, entertainment, nature, outer space, fiction, music, poetry, or something else. But none of these or any other thing should ever take priority over God himself.

When we use God’s creation, we should use it with thanks to God. When we use his creation in a way that is an aberration or a sin, then it is idolatry, since we have placed ourselves above God. Whenever we say, “My desire comes before God’s desire,” then we are falling into sin. But when we say, “This is the bread the Lord has given me to eat” (Exodus 16:15), then we are praising God and giving him credit for what he has done.

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart.
Praise God for the things he gives!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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