In a recent issue of his Daily Hope email devotional, Rick Warren describes the application bridge, which can be used to analyze the contemporary implications of a biblical passage. He lists the three questions of the bridge and then offers an example of its use:

• What did this Scripture mean when it was written?
• What is the timeless truth behind what God is saying?
• How does it apply now to me?

We call this the application bridge. We’re building a bridge between the world of the Bible and our world. Let’s try to build this bridge when applying what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 8 about eating the food sacrificed to idols. Read 1 Corinthians 8, and then ask yourself the questions above.

1. What did this Scripture mean when it was written? There were people in the church of Corinth who knew that idols meant nothing and the food offered to them had no magic power. It was just hamburger or a good steak. There was no harm in eating it because the idols to which they were sacrificed weren’t real. So this group would eat freely but with no regard to what other people might think. Yet there were also new believers who were offended by that practice. They didn’t think that believers should eat food sacrificed to gods of other religions. Paul tells the mature believers not to allow their freedom in Christ to offend their brothers.

2. What is the timeless truth behind what God is saying? Don’t use your freedom in Christ to offend others. Freedom must be used in love.

3. How does it apply to me now? It’s not very common to come into contact with food being offered to idols where I live in Southern California. I’m guessing it doesn’t happen in your area either. So does that mean it’s irrelevant for us? Of course not! If the timeless truth is: “Don’t use your freedom to offend others. Freedom must be used in love,” I need to be sensitive to people around me, because that’s how you demonstrate love. Ask yourself, “Lord, is there anything I’m doing out of selfishness, arrogance or deliberate insensitivity to other people that could be causing a fellow brother or sister to stumble? Am I being puffed up by my own knowledge of freedom, or am I building up others in love?”

(from the Feb. 5, 2012, issue of Daily Hope by Rick Warren; click here for a free subscription).

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