Teddy Bears bring out the best in me. In fact, I have two of them on top of the nearest book case to my desk. They remind me that when I am down I can see their faces looking sweet and often even looking up. They live to the “higher law” of love and teddy bears bring out the sweetness in us…I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t like a teddy bear, have you? But life was not all teddy bear sweet in the Corinthian church as we have been seeing. There were disputes and on going dialogs as to what is right or wrong. When Dr. Keith Krell shared his sermon for bible.org, the title was “More than Meats the Eye.” You are reading right! Meats not meet because this next dispute was just about that. The dilemma was this:
Why can’t I choose to eat meat that has been used in idol worship and then marketed; I know the difference. (sounds rather pugnacious to me) This is when we stop and say it is not what you “know” but what you “do.” It is not about you, but about those new babes in Christ who have joined your fellowship. This is a “hello!” discussion. Ready?
So that was the question and here is Paul’s response formed in a question back to them. What is more important? Knowledge or Love? Freedom to do as you please or a new believer’s stand? Eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols and then marketed or not eating meat because it causes another to stumble? The answer should be obvious to the stronger brethren [sort of what we say a “duh”]: love supersedes knowledge, a new believer’s needs/questions supersedes your maturity, no meat at all supersedes a new believer’s stand. In Corinth idolatry was rampant and meats used in that worship, often the very best cuts of meat, were then marketed after the service. To the unknown buyer, or to the mature believer it mattered not because they knew that idols are just that, idols made of wood and stone, with no life within them. They knew and worshiped the One True God! But, to the new babe in Christ who has just left this belief system it was still questionable as they struggle to walk circumspectly. Won’t others who knew me before question why I still am living as if I were an idol worshiper? [GREAT QUESTION!!] New believers have all kinds of questions and this one ranks right up at the top! Paul said: dear beloved, know this! The higher law supersedes what you may know and what you choose to do.
To put this into today’s world we might use the example of alcohol. Many today say it is ok to have a glass of wine. New believers question whether it is ok and ask: What does my lifestyle say to those who have heard about my life change? Peter addressed this : 1Pe 4:4 4:4 “Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore.” [MSG] Also remember what Paul said in earlier “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own” which he will repeat in the 2Corinthians 6:17 “you are the temple of the living God.” Your lifestyle can be instructive to show that where the Word does not exactly condone or condemn, we choose the higher law which is to walk differently than the world. For you who are the mature believer, it is better to walk and live so that the new believer can see that Christ supersedes anything even if is not definitive. There is a higher law. There is a way we are to stand apart from the world.
The bottom line is this: what is more important? Your liberty/freedom to eat/drink even if you know it is OK if it might cause a new believer or even another believer to stumble and possibly fall? Discernment is the key. Choosing wisely is the key. Choosing love is the key. Putting others needs ahead of ourselves is the key.
Here’s your question: Do we cling to knowledge over love? Is “my” lifestyle more important than the walk of a new believer who is questioning? When it comes right down to it: Choose the higher law.