I Know Stuff
1 Corinthians 8
In chapter 8 Paul replies to the Corinthians’ question concerning the appropriateness of eating or buying the meat of an animal that had offered in a pagan sacrifice. Paul uses this question as an opportunity to address a deeper issue: freedom/liberty in the life of a believer.
Paul initially frames the discussion by contrasting knowledge and love (8:1-3). Where knowledge tends to inflate (producing arrogance), love tends to builds up (producing edification). When it comes to issues where Scripture is silent or unclear, there can arise conflict between those who see freedom and those who see restriction. The response from both parties:
- the weaker brother: “I have carefully defined rules/traditions, so I can’t”
- the stronger brother: “I have freedom in Christ, so I can”
In both responses there is more flexing of knowledge than exercising love. At the end of the passage, Paul offered an alternative approach:
- the strongest brother: “I have freedom in Christ, but I won’t” (while my conscience is completely free in that area, I will choose to build up instead of puff up)
Within 1 Corinthians, Paul offers a four step grid that believers can apply to areas of liberty:
- Does it own me? (6:12)
- Does it offend others? (8:12-13)
- Does it build others up? (10:23)
- Does it glorify God? (10:31)
Is it about me, or others? What is the wise thing to do?
- How do you usually react when you know you are right yet someone continually opposes you? (use only examples when you absolutely knew you were right!)
- As you look back on this weekend’s message, what stands out to you as particularly relevant or insightful?
- How can we distinguish between actions that provide opportunity for the “weaker brother” to grow and actions that wound them?
- How can Paul’s words in this chapter help you move forward in situations where your freedom/liberty could damage a “weaker brother”? How can this group support you?