... We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1, NIV)
Such as interesting verse, no? Well, at least it was to me, hence this article. In context Paul was speaking of possessing the knowledge of knowing that Jesus is Lord. As you read the chapter, he states that although the world is full of gods, idols, and lords, we know that there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
This is the knowledge that we possess. This is the knowledge that we need. The knowledge that we stand in. But not everyone possess this knowledge (v. 7). This same knowledge that upholds the very framework of our living can also prove detrimental when not used wisely. Such a beautiful knowledge can become venomous when we are oblivious to how we speak or behave amongst those who do not share the same knowledge.
In this chapter, there were new Christians who had recently converted. In their former belief, they sacrificed certain foods to idols. Thus, even though they were no longer in that belief system, consuming those foods felt like idol sacrifice to them.
Now, Paul made it clear that eating food, whether it was previously considered as an idol sacrifice or not, was neither here nor there. Verse 8 states "But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do." To piggyback off of Paul's statement, I'd like to show that it originally came from the words of Christ.
Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
(Matthew 15:10-11, NIV)
But I want to take this to a more narrow scope. Let's focus on Paul's action and recommendation. It was not a sin for the new converts to eat their former idol foods. But it felt like a sin to them. And seeing other Christians do what felt like idol worship to them, was a stumbling block to their new found faith.
So, instead of Paul digging his heels in knowledge, he chose to to take a stand in love. He chose to acknowledge the viewpoint of others. He could have disregarded the feelings of the new converts and said, "Well, it ain't a sin to eat it, so I'm going to eat it, and you're just going to have to get over it."
Instead, Paul advised that no one partake in those foods if it created a stumbling block to anyone's faith. This was an act of love, not knowledge. For true knowledge in Christ should lead to acts of love towards others. If he and the others chose to continue to eat the idol food, they would have been correct in knowledge, but incorrect in love. Even worse, he and the others would have destroyed their fellow brother or sister for the sake of knowledge and sinned against God.
So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
(2 Corinthians 8:11-12, NIV)
Modern Day Application
Okay, so how does this apply to us today, Quin? Why I'm glad you asked! In a nutshell, Paul's actions show that knowledge void of love leads to the destruction of others. As stated earlier, the knowledge referenced in the scripture is the knowledge of acknowledging that Jesus is Lord. But sometimes we can allow this knowledge to overshadow love. Think about what Paul recommended.
He recommended love. He recommended considering the heart and minds of his fellow brethren. He chose to stand in love rather than push his knowledge to the point of destruction. His love did not cancel out his knowledge. His love did not some how make his knowledge untrue. But his love built up his fellow followers in the Body of Christ. If he had dug his heels in knowledge with no sympathy for their dilemma, how would that have helped them?
Likewise, while having knowledge of Christ and His sovereignty is paramount, if we have knowledge without acting in love, our knowledge is in vain. We can have all the knowledge the Bible has to offer, but if we aren't drawing anyone to Christ, is not the knowledge in vain? The 2nd most important command is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). The 1st is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. All other commands are built on these two commandments.
Therefore although spreading the gospel is also a commandment (Matthew 28:19), if we don't do it based in love, it can be a stumbling block to others coming to Christ. If we allow our knowledge to puff up instead of allowing our love to build up, we will destroy our brothers and sisters and sin against Christ.
For if our words turn people away from Christ instead of to Him, is that not evil? Dare I say that when we turn people away with our words, we are no better than Satan himself. After all, Satan's job is to destroy us and turn us away from Christ. And if Christians can beat him to the punch by destroying others with our words and pulling others away from Christ, are we not doing the devil's work?
Proverbs 16:24 states "pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." Proverbs 15:4 states "the soothing tongue is a tree life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit". We have the choice to heal or to crush with our very words. We can soothe with honey or deteriorate with poison. The knowledge of Christ is beautiful and has the power to transform lives. But if we dig our heels in our beautiful knowledge void of love, who will hear or accept the beautiful knowledge?
So, let's not allow our knowledge to puff us up to a state of where we don't draw others. With loving-kindness did the Lord draw unto us (Jeremiah 31:3) and with loving kindness should we draw unto others. Bare in mind that the two most important commandments does not include having knowledge, but it does include having love. Lead with love, and allow the knowledge to flow thereafter.
That's all you guys. Have an amazing day and week!
And remember draw with honey.
Quin Arrington's debut book "And Then You Shall Have Good Success: Attaining Good Success God's Way" is available on Amazon in paperback and eBook format. Link to book listed below.