With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

1 Corinthians 8

June 9

While we now live in an era where information is at the tips of our fingers, just a few swipes and searches away, knowledge still holds as much power as ever. At the beginning of this chapter, Paul reminds us of this crucial fact when he says, “… But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3) Here, Paul highlights how gaining knowledge can lead to becoming arrogant and result in divisions between people. He then explains the flip side of this coin: love. By using what we do know for the benefit of others, we can become better leaders in the church and set an example for how to live a life like Christ. To better elaborate on this concept, Paul addresses a question the people of Corinth had for him concerning eating food sacrificed to idols.

Later in the chapter, Paul states, “… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live But not everyone possesses this knowledge…” (1 Corinthians 8:6-7a) Since Christians are aware that all things come from God, it was clear at the time that the meat in the markets was just meat, despite its old use in rituals to idols past. As more experienced Christians were aware of this fact, they would eat the meat casually as they should; however, as Paul states, not everyone knows this information. To the average individual, seeing the meat could still serve as a reminder of the idols of the past, and witnessing Christians eating this same meat could cause confusion and make one deviate in their faith. It’s here where Paul warns us, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9)

The rest of the chapter really speaks for itself as Paul describes how wounding someone with knowledge by being that stumbling block also hurts yourself. In verses 11-13, Paul writes, “So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” The result of not being responsible with our knowledge is devastating because not only do we sin against the individuals concerned, but we also sin against Christ. However, as mentioned previously, there is a flip side to all of this. If we are responsible with this powerful knowledge and use it lovingly, then we can build upon one another. It’s no easy feat of course—like giving up meat for good, as Paul describes—but by preventing the fall of those around us, we can continue to raise our commitment to Christ together.

— Austin Kizer

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How do you use your knowledge to grow closer to Christ? Do your actions and applications of this knowledge show other people your firmness in faith, or are you sending mixed signals? 
  2. A unique phrase in this chapter was “stumbling block for the weak”. What are different stumbling blocks that the world throws at us, and how can we combat them to stay firm in our faith?
  3. With knowledge about Christianity becoming more accessible to people worldwide, it’s important to hone in on the areas that we can directly impact. Discuss how Christians in this modern day can share their knowledge and build relationships with people in their community.

Imbedded Wisdom – Proverbs 6

The Memory verse for this week is Proverbs 9:10:

 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

The book of Proverbs is a genre of literature known as wisdom literature.  Along with Job and Ecclesiastes, Proverbs looks at the world in a slightly different way than the historical books of the Bible or the prophetic books.  In the wisdom books, the sages find information about God throughout the world of nature.  Where God reveals himself directly to Moses and Israel in Exodus and he reveals himself in visions to the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, to the sages who write in Proverbs God often reveals himself in the created world and by observation of human behavior.

Ant Image

In Proverbs 6:6 he writes: “go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”  An ant is a comparatively small and very weak creature when set alongside a human being, and yet, ants are industrious and hard working.  They plan and prepare for the winter by working hard and gathering up their provisions in the summer time.  There is wisdom in hard work and preparation.  The wisdom writer uses this as a way to admonish the person who is lazy and refuses to do the hard work of preparing for winter.  So the wisdom lesson here is “don’t be lazy, work hard to prepare in advance and you will be much less likely to suffer adversity.”

We could then apply this to other areas of life.  For students this means, don’t wait until the night before your test to begin “cramming” for the test.  Work hard at your studies each day in your preparation.  Read your assignments, do your research.  Then, when the harvest comes (the test) you will be successful because you worked hard and prepared.  That’s wisdom applied to life and that’s the value of Proverbs.

Later in Proverbs 6 wisdom is applied to relationships and to marital faithfulness.  He gives a stern warning against the sin of adultery.  He compares adultery to scooping a fire into your lap and expecting not to get burned or trying to walk across hot coals without burning your feet.  As Forrest Gump would say “sometimes things just don’t make no sense.”  Thinking that you can play around with fire and not get burned is foolish… and thinking that you can cheat on your spouse or with someone else’s spouse and not get burned is just plain foolish.  “A man who commits adultery has no sense.”  Instead of the ant, the author uses the jealous husband as the example from nature “he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.”

One doesn’t have to look far to find wisdom.  God has imbedded it in all of his creation and we just need to pay attention- whether it’s the wisdom of the ant in working hard to prepare for Winter, or the wisdom of not fooling around with someone else’s wife or husband, we need to pay attention to God’s wisdom that’s revealed all around us.

prov 9 10

~ Jeff Fletcher

The Key to the Treasure!

Isaiah 32-34


Tuesday, February 14

Today we are pirates. Isaiah gave us a treasure map! What’s the treasure you ask? Well, look no further than Isaiah 33:5-6. Locked up somewhere is a sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. Huh? No cash? If none other than the creator of the heavens and the earth holds the key to this treasure, then I think it’s safe to assume that these things are better than anything that you could find in a pirates treasure chest. The most valuable things you can ever obtain in this life are listed right here: a sure foundation, wisdom, knowledge and salvation. Thankfully we know exactly how to get the key to those treasures. Fear the Lord. After all the things we’ve read in Isaiah, it’s easy to see the power that God holds. But don’t just fear God with your mouth, fear him in your heart. Then, you will get the key to these treasures.

-Nathaniel Johnson

(photo credit: http://wiirocku.tumblr.com/post/139549150857/isaiah-335-6-niv-the-lord-is-exalted-for-he)

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