Knowledge is power, and it helps us excel in life. Even so, it can be a hindrance, especially in our church community.
How can knowledge be a hindrance?
Knowledge is a hindrance when we allow it alone to guide us. We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians. There were some in the church who had come to believe that:
“an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Co 8:4b–6)
For their understanding, we would praise God because what they believe is correct.
Where they went wrong, however, is in how they applied their knowledge. Since gods and idols are nothing, they concluded it was ok to attend meals thrown in pagan temples by their pagan friends, and even to eat the meat sacrificed to idols.
While their belief may be true, others in the church weren’t there yet. When they saw other brothers and sisters in the church participating in these activities, they were led to believe it was ok to combine these practices with their Christian faith, which resulted in their faith being destroyed (1 Cor. 8:11).
How should we use our knowledge?
(1) Love must lead us
As Paul begins chapter 8, at the end of verse 1 he says,
“This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1b).
Paul’s statement tells us love must lead us. Love should lead us because it has others best interest in mind. Unlike Knowledge, which often serve to puff us up, love is willing to sacrifice for another. Love is willing to give of our rights, desires, and freedom for the sake of another.
When we think about it, giving up our rights, desires, and freedoms is not our natural tendency. Naturally, we hold those things close because we are selfish. The only way we are going to love in a way that allows us to joyfully give up our rights, freedom, and desires at times for another is if we have experienced love like that ourselves.
I believe we experience that type of love in the gospel. The Father loved us so much that He gave of His only Son, Jesus. The Son, Jesus, loved us so much that He was willing to give of His life for us. He hung on a cross dying in our place, while the Father poured the wrath we deserve out on Him. Hanging there, receiving God’s wrath, Jesus gave up His rights, desires, freedom, and life for us. He gave of Himself to repair our relationship with the Father, so that we might have eternal life.
Experiencing the love and benefit of Christ’s sacrifice should motivate us to sacrifice for another. As Christians’, God’s love then should channel through us to others.
Love, true love, not the love pictured in movies or shows, should be what leads us. Love should lead us alongside our knowledge because love focuses on others, while knowledge by itself often focuses on us and our rights.