Love Builds – 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
The fifteenth message in the 1 Corinthians Study.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
Today I will share my 15th message on the Corinthians.
I hope that you do not find this daunting or monotonous, but rather you appreciate this systematic way of working through this book and wrestling with this content which applies so squarely with our culture today.
Because we’ve reached the halfway point of the book, I thought it would be good to do something a little different to zoom out from the individual passages that we’ve been dealing with and be reminded of the theme of the book- the overview of the book.
I came across this this video that gives a great summary of the book, so we are going to watch it to be reminded of the theme, then we’ll briefly look at 3 verses that open the next section of this letter to the Corinthians.
I am regularly amazed when we go through a book of the Bible in a series how the passages seemed to be timed so very well.
I’m not surprised, because God is always doing this.
He is always putting what we need right in front of us right when we need it.
We need this passage today.
In the wake of yet another violent week here in our nation, in a moment where people are debating what is culturally appropriate, in these moments before the general election really begins to gather steam toward the fall, we need to here what Paul has to say about knowledge and love.
Now about meat offered to idols- Remember Paul is working through a list of issues with the Corinthians. He’s just covered sex and marriage and now he going to talk about whether or not to eat meat offered to idols, but before he dives into all of that he needs to take down an argument that the Corinthians have used.
“We all have knowledge”
and give them an ethic to replace it with…\
When I was a young man, I racked up several spending tickets. Because I received so many before my 21st birthday I was required to take an 8 hour driving class. This was incredibly inconvenient because I was attending college in North Carolina so I had to get permission to leave school, travel to VA, line up the class, pay for the class, take the class, then return back to school. I showed up to the driving school on Saturday morning and there’s a note on the door that the class is cancelled. Frantically I find a phone book call other driving schools, find another one that is holding the class that day and drive over there. The room is full of people who are not excited to be there. The least excited person was the teacher.
I don’t remember anything from that class- now I’m sure I remember the information because there was a test at the end of the day, but now, many years later, what I do remember is just how clear it was that the teacher would rather have been anywhere else.
We’ve probably all been in a similar situation where you have to cover some important safety information at your job and no one is excited about it and you trudge through it.
It’s important info, but it is definitely not inspiring.
In this passage Paul points out to the Corinthians that knowledge without love is rather meaningless. In fact Paul makes the argument that knowledge without love is harmful because knowledge without love leads to pride.
- Knowledge without love is pride.
In verse 1 Paul says we all know that “all have knowledge.”
Paul was using one their catchphrases or soundbites here, quoting them back to them as he often has in this letter. Pride often leads us to repeat simple statements emphatically, persistently, when we are convinced that if people just knew what I knew then they would get it right.
The word for knowledge here is Gnosis. When Paul speaks of knowledge and wisdom as a Spiritual Gift to be thankful for in later chapters he uses “Logos.” Gnosis was an “in” word in Corinthians culture. They were in love with Wisdom, knowledge, philosophy.
There was a growing problem in the church of people who were referred to as Gnostics from the word Gnosis. These people believed that it was the mind, knowledge that mattered, that the body was evil but that the mind was redeemed. They took this to the extreme of saying that Jesus would not have resurrected because the body is evil so it must have just been the Spirit of Jesus that lives on- or perhaps his teaching, his knowledge lives on…
The Corinthians, once again influenced by the culture they found themselves in, were emphasizing knowledge in this issue about meat offered to idols. They were approaching it from the perspective of, “if I can just convince them of my logic, if they will just understand, this issue will go away.”
Paul makes it clear that the problem here is not a lack of knowledge, it’s a lack of love.
We often believe issues are due to a lack of knowledge when in fact many are do to a lack of love.
Now information and knowledge are important, after all this is a long letter that Paul has written to the Corinthians arguing, debating, answering them about the issues in their church. Paul didn’t say, the Corinthians just need some love and send them a gift, he sent them a letter informing them. There is a subtle but so important difference. Paul was undoing their arguments and then responding with knowledge about Jesus. He was responding with the gospel.
The gospel doesn’t lead to pride, the gospel destroys pride.
The gospel is that I was utterly lost. That I deserves punishment for my sin, and I was rescued by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me. Who I am is not a result of what I’ve done or how much I know, who I am is a result of what Christ did for me. I have nothing to be arrogant about.
Pride is what you get when you think you know something.
Love is what you get when you come to know Him.
If you arrogant, you’ve missed what you need.
Paul says in verse 2, someone who thinks they know something doesn’t know what they need to know. Because if they knew what they really needed to know, they wouldn’t be filled with pride, they’d be filled with love. Now, let me stop and help you diagnose you’re own heart, people who are filled with pride don’t think they are prideful- they just think they’re right.
It might be easier to determine whether or not you have humility.
Humility gives God the credit.
Humility put’s other’s first.
Humility does not boast.
My goal when you walk out on a Sunday morning is not that you say to yourself, that was a great sermon, or that was interesting, but rather that you say, wow, Jesus- He’s a great Savior.
Great sermons don’t change lives.
Great sermons merely point to a Savior who changes lives.
I want you to see that this is beautiful. Because it means that it doesn’t matter what you know, it matters who you know and love.
A buddy of mine told me about a man in his church. This guy is a gentle giant. He will help anyone. Serves around the church in any way that he possibly can. They had a snowstorm a couple of years ago and this guy went and got salt and spread it on the parking lot. My friend walked out to parking lot later and it was still covered with snow and ice. The man had bought grass weed & feed, but the bag looked like the salt that they normally buy. He realized the man couldn’t read. He had a very limited education. This man was no scholar or genius, but his life was changed by the Savior.
Corinth was a city that was filled with teachers and philosophers, but when Paul wrote to them, he said in the first chapter of this book,
Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus,
who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
Truth with Love builds people.
Lastly, I want you to see that truth with Love builds people. Paul says, knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. Knowledge alone leads to arrogance, but truth with Love set’s people free. Later in this debate Paul would speak of building up as giving people freedom and rights in Christ. There is information that people need about Jesus- but as Gordon Fee put it in his commentary on 1st Corinthians-
Knowledge can not serve as the basis of Christian behavior…knowledge must always lead to love.
It has been well said that “people may not remember what you say but they will always remember how you made them feel” & “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Jesus came as a teacher. He was a preacher. But He was often moved with compassion. He healed the sick, fed the hungry. He stopped everything to sit with and pray over small children.
My grandfather was a preacher. At his retirement a man named “Pee Wee” spoke up. Pee Wee was called Pee Wee because he was anything but. He said what I remember about brother Dale’s preaching was his tears. He wept when he preached. You knew that he really cared.
Knowledge of Christ will lead to love which compels others to come to the knowledge of Christ.