Thursday, May 9, 2024

Arrogant Knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1)

"Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies" (1 Cor. 8:1b).

Before Paul gets on with his comments concerning things offered to idols, he makes a parenthetical statement: “We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up but love edifies.” Paul wanted to get to the root of the Corinthian problem, which was pride. The more “enlightened” Corinthians understood that the food offered to idols was inconsequential, but they were using their lawful liberty without any consideration of others. Matthew Henry explains that “knowledge or at least a high conceit of it, is very apt to swell the mind, to fill it with wind, and so puff it up. This tends to no good to ourselves, but in many instances is much to the hurt of others. But true love, and tender regard to our brethren, will put us upon consulting their interest, and acting as may be for their edification.”

Have you ever heard a Christian scoff at a weaker brother or sister? Here’s a common scenario: A Christian sister is opposed to drinking because of the dreadful effects of abuse in her life. She is invited to a dinner party. The host, who has no problem with alcohol and knows that he has the liberty to drink it, serves wine to his guests. The woman is very upset and leaves the party. When the host is told why the woman left, he scoffs and says, “Well, that’s her problem. I can drink if I want to. Doesn’t she know that the Bible does not forbid drinking?”

Putting aside for now comments on how the woman should have responded to her host or dealt with the issue, let us look at the response of the host. This is exactly the kind of attitude Paul was writing against. The host had right knowledge that drinking was not wrong. He possessed the freedom to drink, but he did not act lovingly toward his weaker sister by making unkind comments.

Hodge makes an insightful observation when he says that “charity” as it is used in this passage is best translated “love” and not “charity.” He says this because love is much more comprehensive than charity, going beyond benevolence to edification (that love which is written about in chapter 13). This kind of love goes beyond itself and seeks the happiness of another in a self-sacrificial way. It lays down its life, its freedoms for another just as Christ laid down His life for His church.

Read the verses below. What kind of love are we called to have for one another? Why is this love so difficult? In what ways do you struggle with loving other people sacrificially or with putting your own interests above the interests of others? Pray that God will increase your love and grant you humility.