We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.
The city of Corinth was not only the wealthiest of Paul’s recipient cities and the most ungodly (throughout the Roman world, “to play the Corinthian” was a slur about ones sexual immorality), but they were also the most arrogant about their learning. They gluttonously collected and proclaimed Knowledge as a mark of pride. So it is no surprise that Paul decides, among the many issues he addresses to this church, to address the whole idea of knowledge. “We all possess knowledge,” was a haughty declaration of Corinthian pride.
Paul’s one-line corrective is important for us today as well. “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.” This was a verse my dad gave me as I entered Seminary and has become a lifeverse for me, a check on the natural pride we take in knowing more than another. When left unchecked, new knowledge is used at dinner parties, among friends, and even in our spiritual life as a way of saying, “I’m better than you.” And so we sit in more and more bible studies, and we listen to more and more sermons so that we might know more and more, yet the poor go unserved, the starving are still hungry, and the world still doesn’t know the gospel.
Paul doesn’t go on to say that, “those who think they know something do not yet know what they ought.” He says instead that they “… do not yet know AS they ought.” We know all we need to know but we don’t know it in the right way. We know it for the sake of puffing ourselves up, raising our rank with others, and as a weapon to be used against others. Instead, Paul says, we should know what we know to help and love others, to build them up, and to defend those who need the information against the power of ignorance.
So know what you know, but use it wisely. Find a balance between your learning about God and your doing for Him. And most of all, never forget that the most important knowledge in the world is that you are known by God.
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