God’s Will in Doubtful Situations — Part Five

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 This week’s lessons teach us the personal cost of true love.

In this week’s lesson we have seen that our freedom in Christ must take into consideration our weaker brother. This requires balance. All the way down through history the church has come up with tests to measure a person’s level of spirituality, and whenever that mindset becomes dominant, you get a false kind of spirituality. We do not want that. But at the same time, you often have people in the Church of Jesus Christ who swing to the other pole. That which on one occasion was legalism now becomes license. People say, “We’re free in the Lord to do anything at all.” And so they do it and they do not care about their brothers or sisters at all.

A number of chapters later in this book when Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, he uses a device where after having answered the question, he says, “Now, I’ll show you a better way,” and he goes on to talk about love. I think he could have done that here in this matter of handling doubtful situations. He could have said at this point, “We have talked about this. We’ve discussed what it means to know, and we’ve discussed the situation and how that involves other people, and how love has to be wrapped up in it. But, look, I’ll show you a better way which if you follow, means you won’t generally have to worry about this kind of thing at all.” At this point he could have used Philippians, the fourth chapter, verse 8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. And what you’ve learned, or received, or heard from me, what you’ve seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” He is saying Christians should have their minds set on the best things. They should be pursuing the very best things. If you fill your mind and heart and life and time with the best things, then these other doubtful situations will fall into the place where they belong. Perhaps they will not be matters of utter indifference because what you do often concerns other people. But those issues will not be of much importance to you because you are committed to going the Lord’s way, one that benefits his body, the Church of Jesus Christ.

You say, “Well, that’s easy to say, but it’s hard to do.” Yes, that is exactly right. In doubtful situations we find ourselves often reacting as children do when their parents want them to make a mature decision. We say, “Oh, just tell me, just tell me what to do.” But God does not do that. The Bible does not give us a list of thirty-nine rules. God calls us to mature. He wants us to realize how seriously he takes our development and, indeed, our individuality. He wants this knowledge and the knowledge of his Word to move us in the direction of what is the very best, for the sake of others and ourselves, and above all, for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Study Questions
  1. What tests do we see in the church today that attempt to measure a person’s level of spirituality?
  2. With what should we fill our minds, hearts, and lives?
  3. Between what two extremes do we need to balance our lives?

Read 1 Corinthians 13. In verses 4-7, substitute your name for the word love. Does this passage describe the way you live with others? Ask God’s forgiveness for times you have fallen short.

Read Philippians 4:8. Reflect on the praiseworthy attributes of God – his holiness, his justice, his mercy and love–and meditate on the salvation he has accomplished for us in Jesus Christ.

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