Pride is often the root issue in any conflict situation, and pride is fueled and puffed up by knowledge that is disconnected from application. The Corinthians lived in a Greek culture that prized knowledge as the ultimate possession and leveraged any knowledge they gained to control and manipulate others. This love for knowledge devoid of practical application caused many of the conflicts within the early church at Corinth and made them susceptible to false teaching.
For this reason, as Paul prepares to address a second topic that the Corinthians wrote to him about, he prefaces this section with a quick teaching on the danger of empty knowledge.
“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
~1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Empty knowledge is dangerous because it not only puffs people up and feeds pride, but it can actually destroy relationships. While knowledge is important, love is what builds relationships and grows the church. As Paul will teach later on in 1 Corinthians, without love we can do nothing. Therefore, if we wield knowledge as a weapon and a means of gaining control or authority, we will eventually destroy unity and damage relationships. However, if we serve in love and genuinely meet people where they’re at with the grace, mercy, love, and humility of Christ, the church will be built up and the unity Christ died for will be preserved and strengthened.
Paul also points out that those who think they possess great knowledge don’t actually know as much as they think they do. Since knowledge fosters pride, it can also deceive us, giving us a false sense of mastery on a given topic. As Paul says, if anyone imagines or convinces himself that he is an expert on something, then he probably does not yet know as he ought.
Furthermore, the Christian’s goal should not be to know but to be known. It’s not about what we know or how much, but rather how well are we known by God. And in order to be known by God we must love Him. It’s that simple. While knowledge can help start a relationship, it cannot sustain or deepen it. Love is what builds and gives life to all relationships, including our relationship with God.
However, love without knowledge and truth is dangerous, too. Our culture is pushing love devoid of truth, which then is no longer love. Love always speaks and seeks truth. Therefore, a correct and healthy balance between love and knowledge is important in order to be able to accurately love as Jesus did. Therefore, in this verse Paul is not advocating the removal of all knowledge, but rather stressing the fact that knowledge alone is empty and pride inducing, but when surrounded and cloaked in love it can build up and allow us to be known by God.
Therefore, let us not pursue knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but be people of love who are known by God and marked by humility. For love builds up, strengths the church, fosters unity, and draws us into closer relationship with our Savior and King.
View the About page for more info on the author.
Receive Posts via Email