Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
God created us as thinking people, and He wants us to think. He’s not opposed to us gaining knowledge. He wants us to know Him. He wants us to enjoy creation, knowing our surroundings in a way that glorifies Him. He wants us to know others, building relationships. He created us in His image, and some of the knowledge we have is intuitive. He gave it to us. We don’t always pay attention to it or get familiar with it, so we might claim we don’t have it, and our extent of knowledge might seem different than someone else’s. But we have God-given knowledge.
We can also acquire knowledge. We have to learn some things through experience. It’s the combination of both kinds of knowledge that let us understand what we need to understand in the context in which we need to understand it: God’s will. Knowledge isn’t bad in and of itself. If it’s something God gives us in one way or another, it can’t be bad. All things of God are good. But we can distort them. We can misuse what He has given us and cease to glorify Him in our use of it.
Knowledge can make us arrogant. When we use it, or even seek it, outside of God’s will, it becomes about us. Anything that is centered on ourselves is a pride issue. It’s only when we humble ourselves before God that we can accurately use what He is providing for us. Some people might say that the knowledge they gained was because of their own pursuit, that it really wasn’t a gift of God. They believe that because they took the classes, fulfilled the requirements, and earned the grade, they own the degree, that it was all because of their efforts. God presents opportunities. We can accept them (or not) and do our best, because God always wants us to give our best for Him. But our efforts should always be kept in the context of God’s provision.
We can also pursue knowledge outside of God’s will. Every pursuit isn’t because God presented the opportunity. We don’t honor Him with every choice. We take matters into our own hands. Just because we see a door open doesn’t mean God opened it for us. We have choices in obedience. Just because something is a possibility doesn’t mean it’s our possibility to take. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
While knowledge can reveal pride, love edifies. The most common definition of edify is to build up, and it’s a good one to consider when comparing it to the pride of knowledge. Pride is to build someone, including our self, up. But pride is a false building. It’s being “puffed up” like an empty shell. There’s no real substance to it. It might look good from the outside, but it won’t withstand much pressure. It collapses upon itself. On the other hand, love builds with strength. Edify also involves uplifting, enlightening, and informing. Yes, edify can include something we would typically associate with knowledge: enlighten and inform.
It’s not by our knowledge that God approves of us. It is by our love of Him that He knows us. He knows us because we live out His character. He sees our obedience, and He knows we’re not hypocritically using His name. Our obedience shows an authentic faith. Faith is not what we know about God; it’s what we live out in our daily lives. It’s the fruit He produces because we’re willing to yield to Him.
Dear God, challenge me when I begin to stress knowing about You over knowing You personally. I know that as I yield all areas of pride and submit to You in humility, I will live out an authentic faith, displaying Your love through my life. I trust You as You provide the knowledge I need. I trust You in using it in my life as You use me to honor You.