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IN TOUCH WITH GOD    by Edward Heppenstall

Love in Our Hearts MAY 8


Of course we all 'have knowledge," as you say. This "knowledge" breeds conceit; it is love that builds. If anyone fancies that he knows, he knows nothing yet, in the true sense of knowing. But if a man loves, he is acknowledged by God. 1 Cor. 8:1-3, N.E.B.

As far as knowledge is concerned, Paul is perfectly clear in his own mind. For him an idol means absolutely nothing. There is only one true God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul sits down to eat, since he knows there is only one true God he can eat food offered to idols for one reason: he is hungry and needs strength and sustenance to carry on his gospel ministry. Paul never gives any consideration to the idol. Food is just food for him and nothing more. Therefore when he eats such food it makes him neither better nor worse spiritually.

But Paul does not stop there. He says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient." Knowledge by itself is quite insufficient to guide us to the right judgment in such things, because from this point of view alone we are simple concerned with ourselves and no one else. But such knowledge must be balanced with love for people.

Two questions arise when one is faced with such a choice. Does it hurt me? Does it hurt my neighbor? You may be able to say No to the first without reservation. But the answer to the second is not that simple. Paul understood that. When he thought of his responsibility to others who might misunderstand his action, love for them became the deciding factor. Suppose that certain people who were easily thrown off stride saw him eating some of the food that had been offered to idols. Some doubtless would misunderstand and lose their faith or lower their standards in other lines. Because Paul loved them, he took a stand: "If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend" (1 Cor. 8:13).

Love is the one thing that establishes a man in Christ, and leads him into the truth. God offers us more than information, more than knowledge that satisfies our logic. He insists that we communicate also love, which perfects our judgment and leads to the right stand.

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