1 Corinthians 8:1-6 - Knowledge and Love
Have you ever looked at another believer and thought they were less educated in the faith or in need of more knowledge and understanding? We know from scripture that we all begin as infants in the faith (Eph 4:14), and we will all interact with those both beyond us and before us in this faith journey. So, how do we respond when thoughts like that surface for us?
Paul opens the chapter with a new topic, answering the question ‘can believers eat food sacrificed to idols?’ It’s a hard topic for us to relate to at one level, for its not often that we are welcomed into the home of a devout follower of another religion who offers us food that was first offered to another deity. However, the principle of this passage is an important one for us to consider.
Before answering their question, Paul lays out a principle for the Corinthian believers in verses 1-3. The principle concerns the role of knowledge and love. Paul states that knowledge alone is incomplete. There needs to be a humility in knowledge, and acknowledgement that there is no one who has ‘made it’ nor knows all they need to; we all must continue to learn and grow. However, Paul’s principle is that knowledge on its own is not enough as it needs to be paired with love. Knowledge without love produces pride, giving people a sense of superiority over others (v1), however love seeks to build up others to maturity in Christ (v1, Eph 4:13). An attitude of love takes into consideration the vulnerabilities of those around you as a demonstration and overflow of God’s love to us.
When we see a brother or sister in the faith around us who may be struggling or demonstrating less spiritual maturity, we have two ways we can respond. The first is to stand on our knowledge in pride and superiority, and perhaps judge their failings. The second is to choose to love them. In scripture we see that love isn’t simply a feeling or empathetic glance, it is an action involving putting the needs of others before your own (1 Jn 4:10). Paul will go on in tomorrow’s passage to demonstrate how this principle will be applied to food sacrificed to idols, but today, how might it apply to your life? Where could you choose to love and serve another believer, rather than stand in knowledge and pride? Perhaps spend some time in prayer asking God to bring the name of a fellow brother or sister in Christ before you, so that you could seek to find a tangible way to love and serve them this week. May we be a movement of people seeking to build one another up in love, rather than stand in knowledge and judgment of one another.