By Tinaye Muzanya
Knowing how we ought to know (1 Corinthians 8)
Often the knowledge we have obtained causes us to be proud. Most people think that the educated are the only ones guilty of this, but this is not true. We take pride in knowing things that others do not know. For the educated, this knowledge comes from many years of study at academic institutions which others may not have obtained. For the uneducated knowledge comes from lessons learnt from life, that the educated may not have experienced. I wrote this article for every Christian, whether you went to seminary or not this article still applies to you.
“1Co 8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
1Co 8:2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
1Co 8:3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
1Co 8:4 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.”
1Co 8:5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—
1Co 8:6 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.
1Co 8:7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
1Co 8:8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
1Co 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
1Co 8:10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
1Co 8:11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
1Co 8:12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
1Co 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”(ESV Bible)
In the setting in 1 Corinthians 8 Paul talks about food offered to idols. In verse 1 he talks to the members of the church of Corinth, who possess “knowledge” but their “knowledge” was making them proud. The knowledge that Paul was talking about was the knowledge that states that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”(1 Corinthians 8:4 – 7) They knew that God will not commend them for what they ate (vs8). In verse 9-12, Paul highlights that, those who had this knowledge were leading their brothers to stumble. For those who were weak were drawing faulty conclusion when they saw them eating food offered to idols. Paul then ends the chapter by stating that he will never eat meat if it causes his brother to stumble.
Knowledge that builds up
In verse 2, Paul says something profound. He states that, “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” When we look at the passage we see that the people at the Corinthian church had the right doctrine with regards to eating food offered to idols, but Paul still says they did not know as they ought to know. The question that follows is what does it mean to know as you ought to know? The answer to this question is found in verse 1 and 3. After Paul, said in verse 1 that knowledge puffs up he writes “love builds up”. This implies that, the knowledge that we have is meant to help build our fellow brother and sisters in Christ. Knowledge is meant to be used in the service of love. Secondly, in verse 3 Paul says “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” “Paul virtually equates knowing as we ought to know with loving God. In connection with verse 1, he makes loving people the criterion of true knowing. And in connection with verse 3, he makes loving God the criterion of true knowing.(Piper, 160)”
What the Corinthian church knew about food was true but what they knew was making them proud. They used their right to eat without considering those who are weaker. Knowledge makes us proud because knowledge is something that we have obtained. We tend to want others to see how much we know. By doing so we hurt our fellow Christians who may not know as much as us. On the other hand love aims to “build up”. Loves seeks to benefit the other person. Love aims to build the other persons faith not ones ego. With what we know, lets aim to build our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Lets remember that even if we understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if we have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, we are nothing (1 Corinthian 13:2).