…Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 1 Corinthians 8:1
Knowledge is a good thing, but it isn’t the end game. If not correctly wielded, knowledge can backfire. As Paul says, instead of building up, knowledge can puff up… and then explode into judgment, condescension, arrogance, disdain. Quite the opposite of love.
It was an issue with the Corinthians, and honestly, you don’ have to look hard on social media to see knowledge used as a weapon by Christians today. Francis Chan has an incredible talk on this topic (Google “Francis Chan Think Hard / Stay Humble”). Chan says Paul is addressing Corinthians who may have their facts right, but their hearts are wrong. They are intelligent but unloving. They may technically have the correct theology, but they are wrong because they lack love. Their know-it-all-ness is becoming a stumbling block for their fellow believers.
Chan supposes Paul is saying…“You might be brilliant, but you’re killing our team. You’re not building up the brothers; you’re making them feel dumb and wounding their conscience. You’re not stirring them up to love and good deeds. You just keep making them feel inadequate. By your knowledge, this weaker brother is being destroyed!”
Chan challenges all of us more academic thinkers…how often do we think about people? How hard do we think about loving fellow Christians? How much do we think about the lost? Isn’t becoming like Jesus supposed to be the goal of all this knowledge accumulation?
We can be highly intelligent, a gifted communicator, generate the biggest crowds, memorize the most Bible verses, but it means nothing if we are not becoming more like Jesus. Chan says, “Your brilliance is worthless if you’re not building up your brother — and even worse if you’re destroying him with your knowledge?’” People will know Jesus by our love, not our knowledge. Knowledge is an essential tool. Accurate theology and a right view of God are critical. But it is the foundation, not the end result.
Questions: Can you think of examples when knowledge was used to tear down instead of build up? How can knowledge be used for good?