“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” - 1 Corinthians 8:1-6
Have you ever met someone who believed they were your intellectual, emotional, or professional superior? You know, “that person.” Maybe they like to correct your grammar or your opinion on something they’ve studied more. Maybe they smirk and look away without saying anything when you talk about their field of expertise. Unfortunately, we’ve all met “that person,” but we’ve also probably been that person to someone else.
Knowledge is a wonderful and powerful thing. Knowledge is one of the foundations for life. Knowledge of the Gospel is necessary for salvation: to know that we have fallen short and cannot save ourselves from an eternity without God, but that Jesus has made a way. Knowledge builds our self-esteem, helping us understand how our brain, body, and world work. Knowledge keeps us safe from harm, knowing that fire can hurt us, that bones break, that dirty water will make us sick. It would take a long time to write down all the knowledge we carry around with us daily.
Knowledge is necessary, but our sinful nature can feed our ego and twist that knowledge into a weapon. Paul offers us something better than this twisted knowledge. Paul offers us love, specifically love for and from God. When we believe we know best, we’ll soon find out how lacking we are. But when we choose to rest in love for God over relying on the knowledge we possess; we are known by God.
Paul calls on the Corinthian church to remember that eating food offered to idols has no bearing on their standing before God. He wants them to cling to this knowledge. But even more than that, he wants them to cling to love because love will build them up and build up those around them. Knowledge is necessary, but it is only powerful if it’s saturated in love.
What is a loving way you can respond to someone who treats you as “less than”? In what areas or topics of your life do you act as “that person”? How can you daily remember that knowledge without love is not what God wants for you?
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