August 13 - Personal Liberty or God's Love?

By David Martz

Today's Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1

Central Thought: Love is a higher principle than personal liberty.

Some say knowledge is power, while others say knowledge can only make one proud. Who is right? According to the Bible, 'godly” wisdom and knowledge are to be sought, as they reveal God's nature and will. Worldly knowledge, as opposed to vocational pursuits, feeds the sinful nature along with its pride and lusts. Worldly knowledge focuses on selfish interests as the priority rather than on the love of God.

During Paul's day heathen temples were everywhere. Their priests offered a part of an animal to their idols and sold the rest in the market place. Some believed that by eating an animal sacrificed to an idol, one was in effect communing with that idol. Believers were split over this issue, as many were saved out of this practice and belief system.

Another issue was eating at the temples, which also implied that one was communing with a heathen deity by partaking of animals sacrificed (dedicated) to an idol. To others, it was best to just eat at home in private to avoid any controversy. After all, idols were not real.

Paul made an appeal to consider the conscience of each person and to esteem love as a higher principle than personal liberty. Although conscience can be educated, convictions take time to formulate and change. It was best not to eat at temples and to avoid eating meats sacrificed to idols that could influence young believers to revert back to their heathen practices they knew were wrong. 'Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins” (James 4:17, NIV). This is an issue of conscience, not law.

How do we react when we encounter people with convictions different than ours? Do we ignore them and just do our own thing, or do we respect them by esteeming love as a higher principle than our personal freedom?

Devotional Prayer: Father, help us to become gentle with those who are young in the faith or who hold matters of conscience different from our own. Help us see these situations as opportunities to exercise Your love. In Jesus' name, amen.

Today's Bible Reading: Nehemiah 5:14–7:60; 1 Corinthians 8:1–13; Psalm 33:1–11; Proverbs 21:8–10