Knowledge and Love
January 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
We may think that 1 Corinthians 8 is all about whether one should eat food sacrificed to idols or not. But that is just an illustration of a more fundamental issue addressed in this passage, namely the impact of our actions on the lives of others and how such impact might be a good reason to restrict our own behavior. The bottom line is this: to have the correct knowledge about something or to be right about something is not the only consideration that matters. Frank Crouch tries to explain the issue with a somewhat exaggerated modern analogy: ”Suppose that there is a covered-dish supper at your church. Someone brings a platter of food saying, ‘The local Satan-worshippers had a table set up at the mall giving away this food. It’s delicious!’ Would you eat it in front of everyone? There would be no actual power of Satan in the food. It would be fine to eat it. But how might that be interpreted by others? What impact might it have on a new convert or on someone who would take that to mean that there’s no real difference between things offered to Satan and things offered to God? In a context where no one would have a problem with it, it would be fine. In a context where someone might be led to ‘fall’ because of it, it would be wrong.” Paul does not take sides in this debate. He attacks both sides of the debate by showing that there is more at stake than winning an argument on who is right and who is wrong. That is why he came up with this powerful formulation: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (8:1). If you have to choose between being loving or being right, be loving. People are at different points in their relationship with God, and even if we are right about what God wants, our first priority is always to love people and meet them where they are. Actually, that is exactly how God chose to save us in Jesus Christ! If it was about being right and perfect, we would all be condemned to hell. But fortunately and thankfully God’s first posture is unconditional love and mercy!