I was reminded that God holds those that are mature to a higher standard. It is easy for those that have greater knowledge, being in Christ longer or have experienced more to look down on those that may be lacking in these areas. Yet, the Bible reminds us that God expects more from those that are mature!
Recently, while working through 1 Corinthians chapter 8, I was reminded that God expects mature Christians to be sensitive to what He is doing in the lives of those followers that are not as mature. The challenge here is having knowledge without love. “Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1) This section of 1 Corinthians seems to be Paul’s answers to Corinthians believers. Many scholars suggest that here Paul is restating their next question. The question would go something like, “Could you clarify for those that struggle with eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols that it is ok?” It is those with a better knowledge of God’s truth being insensitive to the convictions of other believers.
Paul would later acknowledge that they are correct in understanding that the meat that was either dedicated to an idol or offered as a sacrifice was not polluted. They were correct in understanding that there is no such thing as an idol. Yet, what they had in knowledge they lack in agape love toward other believers. They had become insensitive toward those that had been saved out of the false religion. Yes, there was nothing wrong with the meat but it was wrong for these believers to eat it. “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?” (1 Corinthians 8:10) The problem is that these newer believers conscience led them to have a conviction about eating this meat. And those that were more mature were actually harming this individuals and destroy God’s church by pushing their views on others. Now, I need to point out that we are not taking about anything that is immoral or illegal. It is one of those “gray areas” between what is black and white.
I can relate to this passage as one saved as a young adult. I came to many convictions in my early Christian life that were driven by my desire to honor Jesus and insulate myself from the temptations of my past. One conviction was a decision to not listen to any rock style Christian music. The reason, it brought up too many memories and temptation from my past. I love this style of music and it is a huge blessing to me in my spiritual journey now. Yet that was not the case after I came to know Christ. Those Christians that strongly encouraged me to attend a conference or listen to certain artists were not helping me, even though they had that freedom.
The challenge that I have seen as a pastor is that we too are often “puffed up” with knowledge but lacking love for others. We regularly are on our soap boxes telling others what God wants for their lives and overriding the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And it is here that God speaks to the mature reminding us that we can “Be right and wrong at the same time!”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson