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.
–1 John 4:20
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addressed a gray area in the church: Should a Christian eat meat that had been offered to an idol? I realize that is not a burning issue in the church today. We do not go into the grocery store and see a section for meat offered to idols. But there are other issues that Christians tend to have strong feelings about: playing the lottery, smoking, drinking, celebrating Halloween. How do we decide what is right and wrong?
The more mature Christians in the church at Corinth said eating this meat was no big deal. So Paul structured this part of his letter by refuting the two arguments they were using.
First of all, the mature Christians were arguing that they had superior knowledge. These believers said there is nothing in God’s Word that prohibits eating meat sacrificed to idols; therefore, they were free to do it. They had that knowledge. But Paul pointed out the problem with knowledge in verse 1: “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.”
Knowledge without love produces arrogance. It produces an insensitivity toward the feelings of others. Do you know people whose heads are filled with all kinds of biblical knowledge, yet they are some of the meanest people you will ever meet? You see, the Christian life is not about head knowledge. The Bible says the purpose of any knowledge from Scripture is to cause you either to love God more or to love others more. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Any knowledge that does not help you love God or love other people is worthless knowledge.
Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 8:2-3: “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.” Paul was saying the bottom line in the Christian life is love for God, and flowing out of that is love for other people. Look at 1 John 4:20: “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.” What does this have to do with our behavior? Paul said our love for God and our love for other people is the boundary of our behavior. We limit our freedom out of love.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Meat Market Christianity” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
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.