Love Trumps Knowledge

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for January 31, 2021; Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1: 21-28

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. (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3)

Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. In going over the readings for this coming Sunday, this passage literally jumped out at me. I love this verse! Why this verse hadn’t caught my attention before I’ll never know. But boy did it catch my attention now. It’s short. It’s concise.  They’re words to live by. Perhaps we could paste it on billboards and on church signs and on our door mantles. Perhaps before this devotion is over we could each commit this phrase to memory. Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

To put this passage in context, Paul is talking to the Corinthians, and people who are new or weak in their faith in Christ, about eating food sacrificed to idols. Although they may believe that “there is one God, the Father, from whom all things came and from whom we live; and there is but one lord, Jesus Christ. Through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corintians 8:6), they may not fully understand that “food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” (1 Corintians 8:8) In Christ, we know that God no longer has restrictions on food, and we know that idols are nothing. Therefore, we have the freedom to eat and to drink whatever we desire. There is no guilt in eating the meat of an animal sacrificed to an idol, since idols are nothing but a block of wood or piece of rock.

Furthermore, Paul then goes on to say, that even those of us who live in the assurance of this freedom, this knowledge, should show love and compassion to those who do not. For these individuals, because they may not fully know or understand this freedom, they may consider the sacrificed food as acknowledging the idol and thus burdening or confusing their conscience. Therefore, we are to have love and compassion for our brothers and sisters in Christ and help build up their knowledge of and trust in Jesus by abstaining from eating the sacrificed food if it would confuse or burden others in anyway. On the contrary, he is also saying that we are to not throw our knowledge around and be arrogant by acting in a way which would bring condemnation, guilt, and an ill view of God’s love for the weaker soul.

In the same way, may we show love, patience, compassion, grace, and mercy to those who are new or struggling with an aspect of the truth and freedom that Christ brings. May we set aside the desire to puff up our own knowledge and impose judgement on a weak and burdened soul who is searching for the hope and love, forgiveness and renewal that only Jesus can give. No we don’t have to worry about eating the meat that was once sacrificed to Baal or Ashtoreth or any of the many other ancient gods, but we can still be mindful to love and walk with others wherever they are at in their faith journey. We can remember how Christ patiently walked with his disciples and all those he met, and now walks with us. In remembering Christ’s love for us, may we love others as they journey to know and trust fully in him as their Lord and Saviour. May we always remember knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

Prayer: Most merciful God, everybody is at a different point in their trust and knowledge of you. Please help me to be gracious and loving to those whom you desire me to help build up. Help me to love you by loving them and drawing them to you. Please forgive me for those times when I may lay judgement on someone or puff myself up, and thus further burdening them and keeping them from fully knowing Jesus and his salvation. In his name I pray. AMEN!

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