As we continue through the book of 1 Corinthians, the book continues to confront a variety of issues and dynamics within the church. In chapter 8, there’s a dual interplay going on in the church. The church is elevating the spiritual gift of knowledge while simultaneously finding their identity in said gift. It’s in this, which Paul speaks into. We see this emphasis: Because our faith is rooted in Christ’s finished work and not our gifts, we look to build up one another, not ourselves.
- We Pursue Being Known over Knowledge: v.1-3
To be clear, knowledge in and of itself is not a bad thing. But the Corinthians had put an unhealthy emphasis on the gift of knowledge, and because of this, had an elitist or arrogant sense about themselves. Not surprisingly, this became incredibly destructive. Paul clearly delineates that knowledge puffs up but love builds up. What God has given to us in His kindness shouldn’t lead us to thinking that we’re superior to others, but instead to serving others with those gifts. That’s the biblical basis and foundation of love; that we serve, share, bear burdens, give of ourselves, sacrifice and much more. On the heals of this, Paul helps us to see that it is in being known by God, not having a knowledge of Him that ultimately authenticates our spiritual standing and position before God. In short, we’re being encouraged to focus our attention on being known by God, not simply to have more facts about Him.
- We Pursue Knowing God: v.4-6
Given Paul’s argument for us to be known by God, he now encourages us to pursue knowing God. The Corinthians thought they knew, but Paul is pressing them into a deeper “knowledge” of God. More specifically, that we would know and understand God’s rule. It is from the Father that all things came to be and for the Father that we exist. It is through Jesus that all things continue to be and through Jesus that we exist. Loved ones, oh how we need this reminder! The Gospel is calling us to know God! Not to know about God, but to personally, relationally know, commune with and walk with God. The whole of the Biblical narrative is pointing us toward this reality, and what Paul is pushing for here in 1 Corinthians 8 is no different. Are you pursing God? Is this your desire in life?
- We Pursue Godly Conduct Informed by Godly Knowledge: v.7-13
Finally, we see a call to action in these final verses. It’s here that Paul lays out specific ways we are to talk these truths and implement them into our lives. It’s manifested in us having regard and concern for other’s background. The presenting issue in 1 Corinthians 8 had to do with participation in ritual meals to pagan gods. The Corinthians appealed to their “knowledge” that it was a real god, so it didn’t matter. But they were blind to the ways this may have impacted fellow believers who may have once participated in those feasts. Not only should there be concern, but we should live with others well-being in mind. Paul’s final conclusion (not eat meat at all) seems pretty excessive apart from the Gospel. But when considering how the Gospel intersects with life, and the seriousness of what was at play, he was willing to go to great lengths so as to not confuse, undermine or destroy others faith. Are we willing to do the same? Am I willing to consider others well-being when making decisions with respect to my life? The Gospel compels these decisions from us. What will you do about it?
In closing, we finished by posing a handful of questions to consider. As always, I’ve included them below.
- Is my life’s ultimate purpose and aim to bring glory to God, or glory to myself?
- Are there areas of my life that I need to reconsider with respect to my brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Am I finding my identity in my gifting, my works, my knowledge or in the person of Jesus?
- Am I ignoring or minimizing the reality of the spiritual realm in my life?
- Is God calling me to walk away from something for His glory? Is God calling me to lean into something for His glory?