Being Careful (I Corinthians 8; Job 21)

“Now concerning foods offered to idols we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”  I Cor. 8:1

“His knowledge has gone to his head.”  This statement confused my 12-year-old who is a literal thinker.  His response, “Isn’t knowledge supposed to be in our head?”  In my response, I turned John’s attention to I Corinthians 8.

In the city of Corinth there were two categories of believers, those who were weak and those who were strong in their faith.  Paul gives instruction in how they are to build each other up.  Two points that govern his instruction:

1.  There is a foundational truth:  “There is one true God.”

This is knowledge that strong (mature) believers cherish.  Such people clearly understand 8:4-6.  There is God the Father and God the Son.  They understand the work of the Spirit.  They affirm, “There is no other Gods!”

2.  There is a practical implication of the truth: “We do not worry about eating food given to idols because they are not Gods!”

This is really important.  Those who were still weak in faith had previously worshipped idols.  They had eaten food during worship times in which they were ascribing deity to these idols.  They had come to know the true God and believed he was the top God.  But they still had not put to rest these (in their minds) lessor gods.

They were offended when they saw their brothers eating food that had been offered to idols.

Think it through:

Paul wrote, “knowledge puffs up.”  If the strong believers only acted out of knowledge they would eat in front of their weaker brother with no problem in doing so.  But they would hinder the cause of Christ.

Paul also wrote, “Love builds up.”  When the strong believer couples knowledge with love, he or she will lay off the food until they have in love led the weaker brother to see the great truth of their being only one true God.

Our take away:

There are so many applications we could give here.  But focus on the main point.  Jesus went to the cross for people who did not know what they did to him and they did not know they needed him.  In love he endured the cross.  In time, God would give them the knowledge of his great love.  They would repent and come to Him.

Much in the same way, we must show love first (This will often mean giving up preferences for the sake of the weaker brother).  But this will cause the gospel to be magnified in the world.

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