It is amazing what people will come up with to idolize. Idolizing something means turning that thing into something you worship. We are capable of worshipping everything: sports, celebrities, politicians, material things, cars, television shows, our children….if it exists, we will find a way of putting it on the throne in God’s place.
I almost feel sorry for Paul as he writes the following to his church in Corinth. Good heavens, they were an ornery people. His letters to this church, which he loved, are peppered with words of rebuke, correction, instruction, realignment, and most of all…love. It is clear in his letters how much he deeply loved these people. He wants them to succeed, to find happiness, and to understand how to walk the path of righteousness that will lead to eternal life in Christ.
Today’s topic is whether or not to eat the meat that has been sacrificed on an altar to an idol. Kinda gross, if you ask me. But Paul, being Paul, sees directly into the heart of the matter. The issue wasn’t really about meat….it was about having a humble heart vs. having a proud mind. WHEN WE CEASE BEING TEACHABLE, WE LOSE OUR ABILITY TO CONNECT WITH GOD.
1 Corinthians 8 (The Message)
8 1-3 The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.
“Sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds.” That is an entire treatise in one sentence. What if you applied that to everything you read today? You may not agree with what your pastor said in the sermon last Sunday, but maybe you should contemplate it a bit more. You may not agree with what your fellow student in your small group said, but maybe the Holy Spirit is suggesting that you consider a different perspective. You may not appreciate everything you read in these devotionals, but perhaps you should allow for another perspective to be offered into what you think you already know on the subject.
The point is that we idolize our own knowledge of things, and we fail to consider that our knowledge comes from our particular bias and perspective, I know this about myself, and endeavor to allow scripture to speak for itself. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. That is where grace on your part comes in.
4-6 Some people say, quite rightly, that idols have no actual existence, that there’s nothing to them, that there is no God other than our one God, that no matter how many of these so-called gods are named and worshiped they still don’t add up to anything but a tall story. They say—again, quite rightly—that there is only one God the Father, that everything comes from him, and that he wants us to live for him. Also, they say that there is only one Master—Jesus the Messiah—and that everything is for his sake, including us. Yes. It’s true.
Paul’s patience with the church that he loves is noteworthy. They didn’t always get it right, and when they were wrong, they were very, very wrong. But in every group, you will find a bunch of know-it-alls who want to treat people who don’t see things exactly their way as know-nothings.
7 In strict logic, then, nothing happened to the meat when it was offered up to an idol. It’s just like any other meat. I know that, and you know that. But knowing isn’t everything. If it becomes everything, some people end up as know-it-alls who treat others as know-nothings. Real knowledge isn’t that insensitive.
Real knowledge isn’t insensitive. What a statement! Real knowledge is patient. Real knowledge is kind. Real knowledge doesn’t envy or boast. Real knowledge isn’t puffed up, arrogant, or rude. Real knowledge doesn’t seek to have its own way. Instead, real knowledge bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Real knowledge never fails.
There is only one source of real knowledge. You may just have to lay down your idol of self-knowledge before you can find it.