Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Few Words and 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

I realize that I'm a very poor blogger, but I think I need to pick up the consistency here for two reasons. One, because I don't often write down what I learn from the Lord during my daily Bible reading, I usually forget. And two -- related to one -- I would love to share these insights with you, the reader (if you care).

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

In the first section of this chapter, Paul addresses the subject of food sacrificed to idols. Apparently, this was a hot-button issue during the time of Paul, perhaps like the subject of alcohol now (see a great essay on the topic by Chris Krycho). Now, before beginning any sort of arguments, Paul says "We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" (v. 1). It's almost as if Paul is saying, "Before we get started, let's get something straight. I know some of you are proud of yourselves, because you possess some knowledge. Big whup. We all do. But love is the only thing that matters." I know, for my part, that I tend toward this type of pride. If I know something I didn't know before, I become proud, for I am advancing in my knowledge. However, I may be knowledgeable of many godly things, yet not a doer of good.

Is Paul saying that knowledge is worthless? I don't think so. In the same way that James says that "faith without works is dead", I believe Paul says that knowledge without love is useless. Let me give you an analogy. At work, my current job is to read manuals until I get up to speed with everyone else at work. I have spent many hours pouring over every detail of our data system. Recently, it dawned on me that I wasn't learning anything, because all I was doing was reading. I hadn't really done a thing, and none of what I read stuck. After this, I endeavored to find small tasks that I could do to learn. I found some, and I've learned a ton in the short time since. In the same way, I believe that we will only grow in godliness when we learn to do what God says. As Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands" (Jn. 14:15). And Paul says in verse 3, "But the man who loves God is known by God." Isn't that interesting? The pinnacle of our existence is not in knowing, but in being known by God.