“…Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” ~ 1 Corinthians 8:1b
This little phrase packs a big punch. How often are we proud of ourselves for knowing something that someone else doesn’t? It is a good thing to have knowledge, yet when we wield it like a power trip, it can cause damage to those around us. Hmm.
Here’s what I found when I looked into the original Greek. Gnōsis means “to have general intelligence and understanding”. Physioō is “to puff up, make to swell up, make proud, bear one’s self loftily”. Agapē is the love of “affection, good will, benevolence, brotherly love”. Oikodomeō is defined as “building a house up from the foundation, or to restore, rebuild, repair”.
So, knowledge in and of itself is not a bad thing. However, when we use knowledge without love, it builds us up, but not the other person. When we are only demonstrating how clever we are, we sometimes, instead, end up looking like a pompous fool. Hmm.
If I love the other person, I will instead try to build them up with my knowledge, whether it is building upon a foundation of friendship or a spiritual foundation in Christ, or perhaps instead working on restoration of a relationship or of a broken soul needing repair. But it must be done in love.
When I apply this to my own heart, I am drawn to 1 Corinthians 13, where we are given the ultimate definition of what true love is.
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13
I. Am. Humbled. How far from this definition of love am I! Oh, that I might use my knowledge to edify others in love, rather than in boasting. Oh, that I might be longsuffering and kind, lacking envy, not seeking attention or bearing myself loftily. Oh, that I might not be rude or seek the limelight, but rather be slow to anger and not evil in my thinking. Oh, that I might not enjoy sin, but rather rejoice in the truth. Oh, that I might be willing to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. Oh, that my love might never fail!
Dear Jesus, I ask You to love others through me. I am nothing on my own, and I am nothing without Your LOVE. Help me to edify others today!! Help me to LOVE!!