Reading through 1 Corinthians this time around I’ve been more aware of Paul’s love and concern for the church body. He continually points to what is best for the church as a whole over what each individual wants. This past Sunday, we looked at addressing major sin within the church. In Ch. 5, Paul is more critical of the church than he is of the world. The church often tends to be more critical of the world than it does of the church. What happens to the integrity of the church when we point to the sexual sin of the world, who has not committed to following Christ, while ignoring the sexual abuse of women and children and sexual promiscuity within the church, those who claim to follow Christ? We lose our voice in this world when we fail to address the integrity of the church while pointing to the flaws of the world.
Paul shifts his focus to interactions between Christians. How do we decide what is right and wrong in a life that is filled with grey? The answer is simply put but hard to live: Love. What does love for other require in every situation? There are three passages that keep echoing while I read 1 Corinthians: One we read last week, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (6:7); a passage we’ll focus on this week, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (8:1); and one we will focus on in the weeks to come, “Love never fails” (13:8).
When you come to a disagreement on a practice, a doctrinal issue, or major decision for the community, how should those conversations be approached? How should you respond? Frankly, I don’t like the metric of 8:1 because I’ve spent a lot of time obtaining knowledge. There are issues we come to in life that it would be easier for me to say, “I know more than you because I have a piece of paper on my wall” (it’s actually in a box somewhere). But, if I have all of the knowledge in the world and cannot meet someone where they are on their journey and walk with them in love, I’m nothing more than an arrogant fool being used by Satan to cause problems in the church.
Read the issues of 1 Cor 8 and see how love applies to decision making in those texts. We don’t have to deal with food sacrificed to idols so use your imagination for a bit. When would there be a situation where you believe something is right while someone else thinks it is wrong? What does it look like to add love to the equation as the one who “knows better” in the situation? Another way of asking this, when is there a situation where doing the “right thing” becomes wrong?
Try ending your day reflecting back over the events of the day using love to examine how you handled yourself with others. Ask God for forgiveness where you failed. Think about the day to come when you might be in difficult situations, ask God to work through you to respond in love to those situations.