I sound like a broken record these days but there is a certain foundation in the Kingdom of God that we must possess in order to progress in maturity. I am writing this series on spiritual maturity using 1 Corinthians as our guide and the one theme we find through it is the vital importance of grasping God's love. Some of us think we know what love is but growing into maturity is actually our slow growth into the depth of this love because understanding it and applying it takes a long time. Often we learn, re-learn and learn again the same lesson until it becomes part of our character. This morning is an excellent example of this.
At one time I wanted to know all there was to know in the world. I wanted to gain as much knowledge and fact as I could and enjoyed spending days studying things like history and geography. I wanted to be a reporter because it married my two passions, knowledge and writing. However, I soon discovered that as great as knowledge is it needs balance to create a full life. Perhaps you have met some people who are "know it alls" but that is all they are. There is also danger in knowledge. Those with it have a tendency to think they are always right but often they are wrong. As much as a person knows there is always more to learn and just because you have some knowledge does not mean you have a complete understanding of a situation. You must have heard the saying "a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing".
This must have been the situation Paul was addressing with the Corinthians as he wrote to them:
We know that we all possess knowledge. (1 Corinthians 8:1a)
This can also be translated from the original Greek as,
“We all possess knowledge,” as you say.
Throughout his letter Paul appears to be addressing a report or a letter he had received from them. Obviously this church had the arrogance of believing they no longer needed guidance because they had gained knowledge but their little bit of knowledge was creating problems. They were creating doctrine out of tradition instead of the revelation of God's Word. Returning to the underlying theme of his letter Paul responded:
We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
Young or old you probably already know the truth of that statement. Knowledge can cause a person to think highly of himself and his intelligence. Love on the other hand takes the focus off of "self" and puts it on others. Love always sacrifices for the needs of other people, not just in good deeds but in attitude and rights as well. Love will set aside the need for revenge, for self-defense, to prove a point, to be always right. Love will always consider what is important for the other person over our own needs. Love causes us to be more concerned about building another person up than embarrassing them. Love makes their well being the priority.
If we think that we have gained so much knowledge that we should be a teacher or that we have to share our great knowledge maybe we need to consider this:
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. (1 Corinthians 8:2)
I really appreciate that verse for myself. So many times I have thought that I was right about something based on the knowledge I had gained only to have someone add to my knowledge to show that I was wrong. Now I always seek greater wisdom from God concerning all situations. Knowledge is great to gain but it needs to spring out of our relationship with Jesus. If we are determined to love Jesus then we will learn every day from him in so many different situations. School is always in as we learn to apply the truths of God to our living:
The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:2-3)
This is one of those situations when we think we know what life is all about until we stumble into this revelation and it gets all turned around on us. No matter what knowledge we gain in life and what we do with it the foundation remains loving God and loving others. That should shape everything thing we do, every decision we make and every word we speak or write. Discovering the power and impact of God's love is the greatest use of the days of our life and as we discover its depth we will find it shaping our lives.
The greatest knowledge we can possess is the knowledge that Jesus dies for us because God loves us.