Knowledge and Love
The kids are starting exams this week, so please be in prayer for them. Their new school year will begin the first week of November, but they are finishing up the 2019-2020 school year now, so please join me in praying that they finish well. Our kids, along with many other kids in Haiti, cannot afford to lose another year of school. Too many people cannot start school on time or have to take years off of school for financial reasons. Most of our kids are at least a few years behind where they should be, and that is why it is important to continue praying.
As I have been studying 1 Corinthians lately, there has been a lot of truths, verses, and passages that have stood out. None as much as what I read last night:
"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves GOD is known by GOD." - 1 Corinthians 8:1b-3
These verses are in regards to eating foods that had been sacrificed to idols, and without going very deep into what is going on in the passage, the truth is simple. Some people believed that food sacrificed to an idol was defiled, others knew it was not.
Believers had every right to eat food sacrificed to idols if they so desired. As long as their conscience was strong enough, there was nothing inherently wrong with it since idols were, in reality, nothing. Food sacrificed to a statue that could not move or talk meant Absolutely Nothing...technically. But what about those newer, weaker believers who believed that food sacrificed to those same statues were set apart for a powerful, evil god? They fully believed that the food was defiled and would cause those who ate the food to in turn be placing something inherently evil inside their own body.
Here is the thing..."Food does not bring us near to GOD; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do." (8:8)
Paul was saying that a Christian's "knowledge" that eating food sacrificed to idols was not wrong did nothing more than "puff" themselves up. Eating the food certainly did not make them stronger or bring them closer to Christ. It only allowed them to say that their relationship with GOD was so strong that they could do what they wanted.
On the other hand, believers who ate food sacrificed to idols would absolutely hurt a "weaker" believer's relationship with GOD. This was not a question. If followers of Christ ate this food, other followers of Christ would be hurt in the process, and on top of that it would probably have made them look worse to those who did not yet know Christ. Their knowledge would puff themselves up, not help or benefit anyone, and actually tear others down.
The application is simple...Which person am I? The kind of person who eats the food just to prove a point, posts pictures of myself eating the food on social media to start arguments and show everyone how "spiritual" I am, and tell everyone who is not as "strong" as me that they are wrong?
Before I talk about the other "person" in this scenario, I can tell you that I am way too often the "eat the food" guy. The person who leans more towards "knowledge" than "love." The person who will spend all of my quiet time studying and very little of it praying. The person who listens to podcasts when he runs instead of music. The person who, when I "know" that I am right, will stubbornly argue with you until you either agree with me or pretend to agree with me so that I will stop arguing. The person who loves to be "right" at the expense of most other things.
The "build others up with love instead of eating the food" guy is hard. It is hard because you know, in your heart, that you are right (though in reality you may not be according to verse 2). You are convinced that the other person is missing out on something because they just don't see what you see. You know if other people would just watch you eat the "sacrificed food" then they will see how wrong they were. The "Build Others Up" guy is:
- Humble when the world teaches that humility is weakness.
- Giving when the world tells us that people are taking advantage of you.
- Loving when the very people that you love do not love you back.
- Sacrificial when the idea of "true sacrifice" is scary.
- Christlike when it is easier to be anything else.
My prayer is that I would become the "build others up with love instead of eating the food" guy. That my love for GOD would outweigh my knowledge of Him. That my love for other people would be more important than me being "right." My prayer is that I can teach this to our kids at All Things New, my own children, and anyone else that GOD allows me to. Join me in praying that GOD changes our hearts so that we choose love over knowledge.