1 Corinthians 8
“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
I must admit to you I have really struggled through most of this book so far, as it has seemed like a lot of the rules that I don’t like to focus on. But this verse right here. It is speaking my language. You see I think many times we let our knowledge of things, of God’s word or of religious stuff get in the way of our love. I love the way Paul cuts to the chaste here. And you might even wonder because it starts out with “Now concerning food offered to idols”. This is phrased like this because Paul is still in the answering questions mode. This was a question that the Corinthian Christians asked Paul. I bet the answer “’all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up but love builds up”, did not seem like the answer to their question at all.
“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)
In other words. Don’t be a know it all. When you think you have it all figured it out is when, quite frankly, you really don’t. But look at this next verse and get what it is saying.
“But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:3)
Wow!! We can pursue all the knowledge in the world. We can be highly educated. We can be smart off the chart and get it easy or we can struggle to understand. But sometimes all we really need to know is that if we love God that we are known by God! Think about that, let that sink in. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19:7.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;” (Psalm 19:7)
I heard that verse many years ago, back when I was first starting to truly fall in love with scripture. I loved it because I knew there was a lot out there I didn’t understand but this verse showed me that with the Lord’s help I could get it. The law of the Lord – His word is perfect! It is there to revive our souls. And it has revived mine over and over when the stuff of this world is on me. And the testimony, the stories in His word, is sure and if you dive in, it is there to make even the most simple minded of us wiser.
We got a whole lot out of this chapter in the first 3 verses, didn’t we? I think chapter 8 just became my favorite in 1 Corinthians. But that is not all this chapter has to offer us.
Now Paul decides to answer their question. Apparently their question was about eating food that had been offered to idols. I just love what Paul tells them. He tells them in verses 4 – 6, there are no worries of eating food offered to idols, because idols are not real. There is only one God, that idols are so-called gods. There may be things in this world that people set up as “gods” but for those of us in Christ they should mean nothing to us.
“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)
However, it is still our responsibility to think of others. Paul is ending this chapter reminding us that not all may be as comfortable with his argument about idols. This is the same conversation as the Freedom to eat conversation, just different context.
“Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. (1 Corinthians 8:8)
The Corinthians were putting too much importance on the food and not enough on their brothers and sisters in Christ. They may have wanted Paul to tell them they could eat or even to tell them they were being more spiritual if they didn’t eat. But that’s not Paul’s style. The heart of the matter of food is this.
“But take care that this right of yours does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)
We must be careful of our actions and who is watching us. Paul is telling them, if your brother sees eating the food that was sacrificed to idols as a sin, then your doing that in front of the weaker brother is a sin as well. We have to be very careful not to lead our brothers and sisters astray by the things we do, the things we say, the things we watch, the things we allow ourselves to hear.
“Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:13)
Oh to have that kind of love for my fellow man.
Lord, I pray we will not be puffed up with knowledge but will just love You so that we may love people well. Lord help us not to be stumbling blocks to our brothers and sisters in Christ!
Please pray for the pastors and our churches today.