by Justin Huffman
"Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).
Paul, writing to two groups in the Corinthian church who were split over what to do with idol-food, interestingly does not at first even mention idol-food. Instead he talks about "knowledge" and "love" and how they must relate to one another.
Knowledge is necessary. You can’t believe, or obey, or love someone you don’t know; but your knowledge of someone will only be destructive if you don’t love them. Knowledge is necessary for life! (John 17:3). And even once we come to know God in Christ, we still we need knowledge to set us free on a daily basis (John 8:31-32).
Knowledge is essential, but knowledge alone is not enough.
Just knowing what is right and wrong does not mean you are doing right. Knowledge alone can puff you up, can make you proud; but love will use what you know in order to build others up in Christ.
Christian, why do you learn? Why do you study God’s Word? Do you learn in order to love better? In order to be more useful in God’s service to others? We might answer, “Well, I want to love God more.” Good! But if you are loving God more, you will be loving others more for God’s sake!
In order to speak the truth effectively, we must love not only the truth we are presenting, but the person in front of us with whom we are sharing that truth. Paul says that the person who proudly supposes him or herself to be super-knowledgeable, and wields their knowledge to hurt others, is in reality ignorant! Ignorant of their own limitations, ignorant of what knowledge is for and how it is to be used.
There are many ignorant Christians -- even theologians -- in America today, who have forgotten what the point of Bible-knowledge is!
Paul insists that the person who has knowledge without love knows “nothing yet, nothing yet…” (a double negative in the Greek). It is like an echo emphasizing the huge, empty cavity in their spiritual maturity.
Let’s be clear: Paul is not speaking to, or about, “mature” versus “immature” Christians.
He is addressing two different forms of Christian immaturity: one is knowledge without love, and the other is love without knowledge.
While Paul is loving to both groups, he is confronting both: while he calls one group "weak" in their conscience, he says the other is ignorant!
The goal must be knowledgeable love – for God, and for others. That is the point of verse 3: "if any man love God, the same is known of him." Both knowledge and love are necessary for relationship.
Is your relationship with God a healthy one? With your fellow church members? With your family? You cannot love them well if you don't know them well. Yet all the knowledge in the world is useless if it is not accompanied with love.
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