In my previous post I wrote about the issue of knowledge versus love and how knowledge puffs up but love builds up. But in spite of this issue, knowledge is essential to our growth and understanding of the ways of the Lord.
In these scriptures today we see how we are to use the knowledge we have cautiously because knowledge can be destructive if used incorrectly. The example Paul uses is in relation to people who have been used to making offerings to idols and eating food offered to idols.
If we are to walk in the path that Jesus Christ set before us, then we need to learn how to walk in love with all people, especially new converts who do not have the knowledge that we may have of the ways of the Lord and are still in their infancy in Christ. The last thing we want to do is to do or say something that might destroy their faith or confuse them. We must learn to walk in love with all people, as Jesus Christ walked in love with the people of His day and with us still today.
Now here is the first challenge for us. As Paul rightly says, “All of us possess knowledge.”
Having knowledge is one thing, but how we use that knowledge determines wisdom and whether we are walking in love or not.
We know that
4 Hence, 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.”
5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” —
6 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.
We know there are no such things as idols and that no idol has any substance, life or power. They are simply blocks of metal, stone or wood. We know absolutely that there is only one true God who is the Father of us all and one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
However even today not everyone has this knowledge. Amongst third world and primitive countries the worship of idols is still quite prolific. Even in the western world there are instances of idol worship, especially amongst Roman Catholic and Orthodox religions.
So if we were to walk in, armed with our knowledge that all these idols and artifacts of the churches are meaningless, false and spiritually barren, then it is quite possible we would not be able to help those who consider such things to be important to see the light. I am cognisant of the fact that even writing what I have just written may alienate some members of those churches. That is not my intent as I wish that ALL people could see & know the value and the truth of Jesus Christ.
So using the knowledge of the truth may actually harm another person by destroying the rapport we have with them and any opportunity to witness to them about the truth.
To do so is NOT walking in love with that person for it does not promote the love of God or the truth of the ways of Jesus Christ. Instead we need to work WITH such people to bring them to Jesus so that He can shed the light of truth upon them. Do not condemn them for following falsehoods but rather pray for them, work with them and introduce them to the truth as they are ready and able to accept it.
Walking in Love
To walk in love is to walk as Jesus walked and to display the attributes of the nature of God. The best place we see and recognise those attributes is in 1 Corinthians 13 which says,
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends
Here we see some of the aspects of the nature of the Father for here we see love described.
Note the first few words, “Love is patient and kind.” Is it patient and kind to ride roughshod over the beliefs of another person even when you know they are wrong?
No. Patience means to work with the person and bring them gently and slowly to the understanding that they are in error so that the Lord through the Holy Spirit can show them the truth.
We also see in the words above that, “Love does not insist on its own way.” Even though we know they are in error we do not try to force people to believe as we believe. We should not confront people but walk beside them so they can grow. We can guide them in the right direction, but not drag them along kicking and screaming.
Acting in accordance with love will enable us to bring people to a better understanding of the truth so that they can grow, learn and walk closer to the Lord.
Finally we see Paul say that we should not put any stumbling blocks in the way of those who have not advanced in the Lord to the extent that we have. Note his words,
9 Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
11 And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.
Paul’s concern here is not as much about trying to bring these people to the same knowledge that he has, although that would be the ultimate hope or aim. Rather Paul is concerned about not upsetting the fledgling faith of these new converts. He does not want to use his knowledge in a way that may cause these new converts to stumble and condemn themselves.
And that is the same place we need to get to. We want to act with others in a way that lifts them up and helps them in the place where they are. There will be time to strengthen them in the Lord as He teaches them, but in the meantime we must not put them offside.
Walking in love is the aim we must all aspire to for when we walk in love, we walk as Christ walked, that is, in the image of God the Father.
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