We continue on the meat issue (part 2/3).
Some in the early church ate meat with thanksgiving, given that an idol is nothing and that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” (1 Cor 10:26). Others ate only vegetables, because their consciences were bothered by sacrificial foods (1 Cor 8:7), presumably because they felt that food involved in idol worship was unclean.
God accepts (14:3) both the meat eater and non meat eater.
Paul gives some guidance on approaching disputable matters – we are to be fully convinced in our own minds (14:5) of our choice, we do what we do with thanksgiving to God (14:6), recognising that we belong to God and live for him (14:7-8), and knowing that we will give an account before God (14:12). Of course, the “believer’s freedom” does not extend to choosing whether or not to love and forgive our neighbour, or whether to engage in sins such as jealousy and sexual immorality, as there are clear commands regarding these, even in the preceding chapter (13:8-14).
We have freedom as long as we are accountable to God, but our freedom is also to be guided by our responsibility to act in love (14:15, 1 Cor 10:23-24), promoting unity and mutual encouragement (14:19). The meat eater should not judge the non meat eater (14:1), nor encourage them to act against their conscience (1 Cor 8:10-12), or cause them to stumble in any way (14:20-21). More important than the meat eater or non meat eater’s views on the matter, is a focus on building God’s kingdom in “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (14:17).
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. – 1 Cor 10:31-33
Those with differing opinions on disputable matters, are not to quarrel with, judge, or look down on one another over such matters (14:1-3). Not to say that these are unimportant issues, but these matters are between ourselves and God (14:22), and God himself will be our judge (14:4, 10).