July 16, 2012

Love surpasses knowledge

As a teacher-type person, I love to collect information, yet there is a danger in that. The danger is not in knowing many facts, but in the fact that knowledge tends to produce pride. This is supposed to be a carnal trait in those with the spiritual gift of teaching, but this verse suggests this is a human trait, not at all restricted to us teacher-types…
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about their pride problems. They thought they knew everything, and maybe they were a smart bunch, but they were not properly applying that knowledge to their lives. They were a target for a more modern accusation that says, “I don’t care how much you know until I see how much you care.” 

Ouch. I’ve had that problem. Truly, knowledge tends to bring out a competitive and prideful spirit in me that puts my focus on winning and superiority rather than on love and doing what is best for others. 

Love is a builder, vital for others and for my own growth in Jesus Christ. My knowledge will not solve my pride issues, but loving others can make a big difference. Christian love is sacrificial, selfless. It levels the playing field. Not that a good education and a thorough knowledge of God’s Word is unimportant, but God wants me to possess knowledge, not be possessed by it so that love gets pushed aside.

This problem is not just mine. It started with the first people created. God spoke to Adam saying, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:3). This forbidden tree was the tree of knowledge, but there was another tree there, the tree of life.
Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:23–24)
What a different world we would live in if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life first. That tree was no doubt key to having the life and heart of God. With that in place, love would be first, not loving knowledge, being smart, being superior, or thinking I do not need God because “I’m so smart that I can do this all by myself.”

All of humanity suffers because of that choice. Yet God gives us another chance through faith in Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him, He gives His life to us. As we partake of that “tree of life,” the love that is in Christ is “shed abroad in our hearts” to edify and build up others. 

Each morning I sit here and draw truth from the Word of God. However, that truth is useless and even harmful if it does not motivate me to action… action that reflects that I’ve already feasted on that other tree. 

Lord, Your life and the sharing of Your life with others is about loving them. Yes, I need to have knowledge about many things, even share that knowledge, but knowledge without love produces pride, and pride is at the root of human sin, my sin. May love always be first on my menu.

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