Monday, February 01, 2010

Knowledge and Love

1 Corinthians 8:1 "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

During my early days as a youth leader, I often heard this verse quoted. My church is one that puts a lot of emphasis on teachings, and some of the youths think that it is a wrong direction. They think that it is just "head knowledge" whereas the good churches are the ones full of love. One of them had actually left Jubilee, preferring a more charismatic church with more emphasis on emotional worship and outreach. He was one of those who quoted this line. I had my own defense based on the commentaries. The "knowledge" in this verse is actually pertaining towards the liberty we have to eat anything we want (including food offered to idols). Love here refers to restricting our freedom for the "weaker brothers".

But yesterday I had a new take on this verse, so I think I'll note it down here. This verse from Paul is not to disparage knowledge over love. Paul is clearly a very knowledgeable man. Why else would he teach so passionately til Eutychus almost died from it (Acts 20:9)? Knowledge is good, and so is Love. But it is important to note that they have different effects. Love is something that strengthens the relationships in a community. That is of course indisputable. But as someone gets more and more knowledgeable, he will also be inflated in his ego. This is bound to happen because he knows how much he knows. He also knows how much others don't know. So, Paul is not speaking about which is right or wrong, but rather about the effects of knowledge and love. Knowing the effects of knowledge is important. I will continue to gain knowledge. But I must also keep my pride in check. Otherwise, I will end up like those knowledgeable people who also judge on the ignorance of others. Now that I have a better knowledge of this verse, notice how I now also begin to judge on those knowledgeable judgmental types?

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