“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #121
“Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:32-33).
We should start with the goal. Paul is seeking the salvation of many men; he is not playing for small change. Since they are the point of the mission, the one on the mission subordinates his own interests to the task. He seeks to please all men, and denies himself the pleasure of seeking his own profit, because he bends all his efforts toward this end.
The “all men” here encompasses all kinds—Jews, Gentiles, not to mention members of the church. This ties in with the point of his previous discussion. He is talking about cultural identity markers—dietary issues, ceremonial practices, and so on. When we are on their turf, we are to behave in a respectful way. No one should be able to say that we are being flamboyant and obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious. You don’t take your BLT into the synagogue. You don’t swing your liberty around on the end of a rope.
At the same time, Paul says elsewhere that we should be at peace with all men so far as it depends upon us. This requirement to not give offense to Jews, Gentiles, or Christians is not an absolute. Obedience is absolute, but it is to God, and not to my own preferences. My own preferences must give way to the urgency of winning all kinds of men to Christ.