Leaders eat last. It’s how servant leadership works. Those who are in charge and have the most freedom, use that freedom on others. When a leader eats last, it’s to make sure everyone else got what they needed and were fed.
This isn’t just a leadership rule. It’ also how we raise our kids. The older, more mature kids look out for the younger ones. The stronger ones look out after the weaker. It’s how any healthy society or community works. It’s not different for the church.
There was an issue of eating meat offered to idols in Corinth. Some folks rightly understood that pagan gods weren’t really gods and that meat was, well just meat, even if it had been offered to a false god. But some folks used to go to those same idols and offer meat. To them it was a whole way of life before the Lord got ahold of their heart. So when they saw people they respected pulling up to a temple for a false god and ordering sacrificed meat off the menu, they were incensed! How could a Christian eat that stuff?
So what were folks supposed to do? Give up meat for the sake of their brother? YES! Paul says that the strong are to SERVE the weak! In math this is called the lowest common denominator. Rather than saying, “Oh, grow up!” to the weak brother, we who are free, humble ourselves to the lower standard to our brother’s standard and we use that opportunity to share the gospel. Paul didn’t eat pork when he was with his Jewish brothers because it was offensive. He didn’t charge for the gospel in establishing a new work because he want the offering plate to be a stumbling block for people hearing the gospel.
When it came to meat sacrificed to idols, Paul indicated that it’s better for a brother who has freedom to eat steak, to not eat steak for the sake of his brother. We might put this in terms of wearing a mask during the pandemic. I don’t like wearing masks, but I’ll gladly wear a mask for the sake of my brother who asks me to wear one. The mask isn’t the most important thing. Honoring the Lord, encouraging my brother, and the unity of God’s people are far more important than if I have a mask on my face or not. I sure hope masks work in slowing the spread of the virus (I’ve had it and I never want to have it again), but the primary reason I wear one, is for the sake of others.
Father, give us wisdom in how to become all things to all people. Help us to know if there are any stumbling blocks other than Jesus in our lives. Help us to value our brothers more than we value our own freedoms. I pray for unity in the body of Christ today. In Jesus Name, Amen.