1 Corinthians 9-12

The Law of Love

“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” 1 Corinthians 8:1 NASB

The natural tendency of fallen man is to draw attention to or benefit self. The purpose of the Church is to build up and encourage one another in their living for the Lord. In Chapter 8 the question seems to be, since idols are not really gods, can we eat the surplus meat that was left over after a portion of it has been offered as a sacrifice? This extra meat would be sold at a meat market. Apparently, the argument was over whether or not a Christian had a right to purchase and eat the meat.  Paul points out the real issue is not the meat, but how it affects other people in the Church.

Years ago, when New Age was getting a lot of press, I took the church youth group to an area wide youth meeting. The leader had everyone close their eyes and envision the story he was telling to get us to understand that all our sins are like filthy rags. The purpose for using the visualization was not only to get us to “see” the story but to also “feel” the emotions associated with it.  One of the youth leaders from another church got very upset. That person had come out of the New Age movement where visualization was regularly used. They were afraid that the youth leaders were bringing New Age practices into the Church and could mislead the youth.

Years before this event, in a more secular setting when I was building machinery, the machine shop foreman where I worked, had just bought a new house and invited everyone over for a house warming party. The foreman liked to drink so he had a keg of beer on tap for the party. One of the guys I worked with had a long history of alcoholism.  He had lost everything including his wife and family but he finally was able to quit drinking and had been sober for a few months. The guy having the party thought it wouldn’t be right to not invite the man with the drinking problem so he did. At first things went well and my friend did not drink. However, there were others there that were drinking and soon one of them picked a fight with my friend and before the night was over he was drunk and went on a long bender. He kept drinking and never came back to work. Things went downhill from there for him.

The law of love in the Church means that we are to consider what we do with our freedom in Christ and how it may affect a “weaker” brother and sister in the Lord. I really don’t like the term “weaker” here because I have seen it used arrogantly by talking down to the “weaker” person.

The Greek word translated “weak” here means “sick” it is first used in Matthew 10:8 where Jesus sent out his disciples to minister in Israel. One of the things they were to do was heal the “sick” with the power He gave them. The next time we read this word is in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In Matthew 25:36 the sheep are separated from the goats and the sheep inherit the kingdom of Heaven because of how they treated Jesus. One of those ways was when Jesus was “sick” the sheep came and visited Him. Of course the sheep did not remember ever ministering to Jesus and asked Him when it was they did this. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of one of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 26:40b KJ

These two verses in Matthew should put an end to the argument. Jesus seems to be very concerned about the “sick” or “weak.” It is clear that we are to be concerned about how our words and conduct are going to affect other believers. Paul will continue his discussion on the subject over the next few chapters. By then it will be clear that what we have received came from God and is to be used for His glory. Arrogance, however, claims it for self and tends to glorify self. We will read how well that went for Israel as they traveled through the wilderness to the Promised Land in Chapter 10. Paul also makes it clear that although we may have authority over someone, we also have someone in authority over us. Wherever there is authority there is also responsibility and accountability.  In Chapter 12 we read about the spiritual gifts God has given for the building up of the Church. Before we can use these gifts according to God’s plan we must have a right attitude regarding our responsibility, accountability, and purpose.

Again, going back to Chapter 1:7, Paul told the Corinthian church that they were not lacking in any gift. Could it be that they just thought they were lacking, but in reality, they were miss-using the gifts they had, making them ineffective? I think so. Paul spent a lot of time on the subject on the law of Love for ministry and he is not done yet.

Let love for the brethren guide your ministry.

Pastor Dave