Knowledge without love isn’t knowledge

One of the most discouraging sights to see is a thread of comments or posts from Christians debating doctrine.  It’s not the debate that’s discouraging; may we continually seek the truth together.  No, what’s discouraging is that too often, the conversation between believers becomes vile, worldly,  and unloving.  If the Corinthian church had a blog, they perhaps would’ve had the same problem.

Writing back to the church at Corinth, Paul addresses what seems to be something they asked him about: whether it was ethical or not to eat food sacrificed to pagan idols.  There seems to have been a sharp divide among them.  And it seems that in their letter to Paul, the author/authors refer to their own heightened knowledge about the matter.  So, here’s Paul’s response:

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. – 1 Corinthians 8:1

It seems like Paul is quoting something that they said, that “all of us have knowledge”, but it’s as if he’s quoting it ironically.  In the following verses, he’ll explain that knowledge without love isn’t really knowledge.

This so-called knowledge “puffs up”.  It makes a person proud.  It makes them think too highly of themselves.

In sharp contrast, love “builds up”.  This is a favorite metaphor of Paul, and it’s probably to echo the Savior’s teaching that the church is God’s temple under construction.  To build up, to edify, is to help someone along in their walk with Christ, to help them to grow as a child of God.  That’s what love seeks to do.

So, while knowledge by itself puffs up, knowledge with love builds up.

It is inexcusable for a Christian to debate without the singular mind of loving and edifying the other Christian.  Such “knowledge” shows that the debater hasn’t actually acquired true knowledge.  It’s just data.  But true knowledge about God will increase a person’s love for others.

Sheep, many of us have participated in this sin, this sheep included.  God is merciful, and those sins have been paid for on the cross by the Savior.  Going forward, let us pause and think before we hit send, or before we say our thought to the person in front of us.  What is our motivation for saying what we’re about to say?  Is it to flaunt enlightenment, or is to build up the body of Christ in truth and love?

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