Idol Speculation

Jeff Munroe

READ : 1 Corinthians 8

“Knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. (v. 4)

A couple of generations ago, card playing was a vice to be avoided by Christians. These days you are as likely to hear sermons warning about the danger of playing cards as you are to hear sermons warning about eating meat that’s been sacrificed to idols. Issues come and go as times change, but behind the issues principles for dealing with life’s dilemmas remain.

We’ve moved in 1 Corinthians from issues like incest and lawsuits that Paul sees as nonnegotiable to issues that are negotiable. Paul makes it clear he doesn’t believe eating meat that had been sacrificed to an idol is a problem. In those days in Corinth it was nearly impossible to find meat that hadn’t been part of a sacrifice. Paul says idols don’t have any actual power, so believers can go ahead and fill up. But then, interestingly, he advises against doing so. Why? Because love is more important than knowledge or freedom.

Here we get a principle that transcends cultures and history: loving concern for others should be of paramount importance in our decision making. If something doesn’t hurt me but hurts someone else, I should not do it. The old saying, “Sometimes it is more important to be nice than to be right” rings true here, because too often being “right” leads to divisiveness, while acting in love brings unity.


Guide us, Lord, as we make decisions today. Help us always to be mindful of you and of the impact of our actions on others.