Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.
–1 Corinthians 8:1
Let’s take a trip back two thousand years to the city of Corinth. In the pagan temple there, you could bring a meat offering to appease the gods. Some of that meat would go to the priest–but with all these people offering sacrifices, there was too much meat for a priest to eat. So they established a meat market where people could purchase meat that had been offered to an idol. This set off a debate in the church at Corinth: Should Christians eat that meat? The more mature Christians said, “We know idols are not real, so why not?” But to the Christians who had just come out of idolatry, eating that meat would be a signal of going back into their pagan lifestyle.
We have equally contentious issues in the church today. Should Christians practice birth control? Should those who have been divorced and remarried for biblical reasons be allowed to serve in leadership positions in the church? In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul gave us three principles for making decisions in these gray areas of the Christian life based on a proper understanding of grace.
First of all, good grace elevates love above knowledge. Those who were pushing bad grace in the Corinthian church said their doctrinal knowledge was the only basis for making decisions. They said, “We know there is no such a thing as an idol; therefore, we are free to eat that meat. Case shut.” Today, there are people who say, “We know we are not under the Old Testament Law anymore, so we are free to break those regulations,” or, “We know there is nothing inherently sinful about alcohol, so we are free to drink in moderation. Case shut.”
No, Paul said, knowledge is not the only question to consider. Look at verses 1-3: “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”
Any biblical knowledge that does not lead you to love God and love other people more is worthless. In 1 John 4:20, John wrote, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” If you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, then you are going to love other people like you love yourself. Therefore, you are not going to do anything that would harm another Christian. Just because you have the knowledge that you are free to do something does not necessarily mean you should do it.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Decision-Making” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org