A few years ago, a 36-year-old man named Corey Walker in Florida killed his roommate, Anthony Smith, by stabbing him in the chest with a kitchen knife.
Why did he do it? Because of an argument over a missing corn dog!
Walker attacked Smith because one of his corn dogs was missing. First, he accused a girlfriend of Smith’s, who was visiting. Walker eventually turned on Smith and attacked him with a knife from the kitchen.
The police officer said, “It’s hard to imagine someone taking a life over something so trivial.”
Let me ask you, “Do you have a beef with somebody!” We have beefs all the time, over silly petty things like food! Not long ago, people were killing each other over the Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich!
But I confess, I get hangry about what I eat! The other day, Pam made me a ham sandwich when we had perfectly good beef brisket in the fridge! Was I thankful for the ham sandwich that she didn’t have to make for me? No! I was mad because I didn’t get to eat the brisket, deliciously prepared by Roland, one of our Connectors! We get into arguments about best burger, who has the best food!
To say that the Christian church in Corinth had issues getting along is an understatement. They had conflict. Some of it was over important stuff, and some of it was over trivial things. They even had a food fight! The food fight the Corinthian Christians were dealing with was a beef about beef!
So Paul wrote them a letter to tell them how to get along together. How to not be divided.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
A Moral Choice
They lived in a pagan culture where they had all of these made-up gods that they would sacrifice animals to, and then they would sell the meat for cheap at the market. In fact, most of the meat they had was sacrificed to idols. You might go over to your friends’ house and they’re making you dinner, and you know they got that idol meat. Or you go to a wedding, and you have to ask, “where did this meat come from?” As a Christian, the question was, “What do I do? Is it okay for me to eat this meat? Is it okay for me to buy this meat in order to save a little money?”
Paul shows us how to love people when we are facing those hard moral dilemmas. He is talking about our relationships, with other Christians, and with people who are not yet Christians.
4 Principles to Love People you Disagree With
Know what matters most – Love.
The Bible tells us that love is the most important. There’s an order of priorities in our love. We are to love God first! Heart Soul, Mind, and Strength! And then Love People.
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)
1 Corinthians 8:1 says, knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Knowledge can make us proud and arrogant because we think we know it all, or we know more than someone else.
So when I have to make a decision about what I will do or say, I need to check my motivation: Am I responding out of what I know or think, or do I run it through the “love filter” and say it out of love?
What you know matters
I love studying and learning! I spent literally 26 years of my life in school and earned a doctoral degree at the age of 34. Knowledge is important. God wants us to learn!
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, Proverbs 8:10
Let knowledge direct but let love lead!
Truth is vital! When I’m talking about knowledge, I’m talking about what’s true. God’s Word is Truth! Then, love shows me how to apply the truth to my life.
If you’re a “know-it-all,” your relationships are always going to struggle.
If your life is led by knowledge, you will be intolerant of people! Sadly, in the process, you could be the very one keeping your family and friends from a relationship with Jesus.
What’s more important, proving you’re right, or showing them the love of Christ?
How do you know if you’re leading with love?
If you find yourself always arguing with people who don’t know Jesus, you’re probably not leading with love.
They may be wrong, but maybe you’re missing the bigger picture of how they’re hurting because they’re wrong.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!
Know that you don’t know it all.
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:2
We are in an age of information overload! There has been an information explosion over the last two years! More data was generated in the last two years than in the entire history of the world before that. Google is searched 40,000 times every second. That’s 1.2 trillion searches every year!
Every minute, 300 new hours of video shows up on YouTube. We have all this information at our fingertips, but there’s so much that we don’t know.
Are you so sure you’re right that you can’t even imagine that someone else could know something you don’t know?
We need to know that we don’t know everything. 1 John 3:20 says that God knows everything. He does, but we don’t. In fact, the Bible says right now, we see through a glass dimly. Like a smudged-up glass that you can’t quite see through.
Whenever I think I have it all figured out for me, which is hard enough, or I have someone else’s life figured out, that’s when God humbles me.
We need to use the knowledge we have and realize we’re still learning. Do what you know, but know you don’t know it all.
Know the God who knows you.
God knows everything about you. You are fully known by God. I love the fact that the one who knows you best is the one who loves you the most! So, build your life on God’s love for you. And love other people not because of what you know but because of who knows you.
But whoever loves God is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:3
You love God by receiving His free gift of forgiveness through Jesus.
Who you know is more important than what you know.
That’s usually true on a human level, and it’s true on a spiritual level too.
In verse 4-6, Paul gives us a practical picture of how it works. He asks, what do we know about eating food that has been sacrificed to idols? We know that idols aren’t real gods, they’re just made up! They don’t have any power. There’s only one true God!
Life isn’t an argument to win, it’s chance to love people and show them God’s love!
We know and God knows those idols aren’t real, so the food is fine! But not everyone gets that. In verse 7, Paul says, “Not everyone knows what you know.” They’re weaker and just telling them, “Don’t worry about it,” isn’t enough.
Some people believe the idols are real. Some people used to believe they are real and they know better now, but there’s still something about it that makes them feel guilty.
It’s not about food, it’s about people. Yes, you’re free to do it, but for them, it’s a sin because it’s going against what they believe right now.
Is your life based on what you know, or that you are known by God? Are your actions based on what you know, or the people you love? We shouldn’t be asking, “Do I have the right to do this?,” but “How can I best love people?”
Know that you have strong influence.
You influence people whether you think you do or not. Other people influence you too! We are a community with common ground.
I may be right, but if it’s hurting another brother or sister, then I am wrong. What I do can lead someone else to stumble in their faith. When you sin against them, you are sinning against Jesus.
In fact, you may be doing what’s right, but you may be leading someone else to do something wrong. It would be easier if you could just say, “where do I draw the lines?” The problem is, it’s different for different people, because we have different maturity levels.
The flip side is this: You can help the people who are weaker or who don’t have any faith by what you choose to do.
Choose people over your preferences.
When you boil all of life down, it comes down to this: We are here to love God and love people.
In verse 13, Paul goes so far to say that he will never eat meat again if it causes someone else to stumble. That’s what it means to make people a priority. To love them so much that you lay down something that at the end of the day doesn’t matter so much.
What’s most important? Your rights, your pride, your freedom to do whatever you want to do, or your relationships with your family, and your friends, and your neighbors? Is your comfort, or money, or anything more important than your relationships? Put the priority on people.
Do not just do something because you have the freedom to do it. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. Love sacrifices to meet someone else’s need.
Jesus had every right to stay in heaven. He didn’t have to come to the messy messed up world to give his life on the cross to save us. But He willingly chose to lay down his rights to show you how much he loves you. So that you could be saved and be connected with Him into His forever family. He made you His priority.
We will lay down our rights and pick up the cross of Jesus.
We will lay down our dependence on how much we know and how right we are and we will focus on who we know and who knows me: Jesus!