Thursday, February 9, 2017

Free to Choose What is the Right Thing To Do!

1 Corinthians 8
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

In chapter 8, Paul teaches on the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols. Since most meat sold in the marketplace had been likely offered as a sacrifice in pagan temples, some believers felt that eating this meat was wrong. The more "knowledgeable" believers knew that since these idols had no power in themselves, there was no problem eating the meat. So while Paul argues that it may be true that eating this meat is not wrong, to the believers who do think it is wrong it is. Therefore the more mature believer should refrain out of love for his brother or sister in Christ.

Paul is in effect saying we have freedom in Christ, but we should only use of our freedom if it does not tear others down. Part of being free is one still has the freedom to not excercise certain rights. Paul uplifts this situation as a way to teach how Corinthians how they should love each other and grow into a deeper level of faith. He says, "While knowledge puffs up, love builds up."

There is a balance here. Obviously knowledge is good. God wants us to grow in our knowledge of who He is, the bible He has inspired, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The key is how we use our knowledge. Jesus knew everything as the pre-incarnate Word of God, but he did not consider his equality with God as something to hold on to! But he emptied himself and became a servant unto the dead. As the old adage goes, "I don't care how much you know, until I know how much you care." As Dallas Wiilard says, "Most of us are educated beyond our obedience." Just knowing about God certainly is not always an indicator of how you follow God's commands.

Do you use your knowledge to build others up, or cause them to stumble? We have freedom in Christ by what He has done for us on the cross, but the question is how will we use that freedom? In regard to a Christian's freedom Paul says, "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." That means before we act in freedom, we should ask the question, "Is my action, though I can justify it, going to build my brother up or cause him to stumble." Jesus purchased our precious freedom with his precious blood on the cross. May we use it in love and service of others.

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