Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Like a Blow Fish

"Knowledge puffs up, love builds up." 1 Corinthians 8:1b

Read 1 Corinthians 8.

Knowledge, without humility, can puff one up like a blow fish. It can inflate the ego. It can swell a person's pride. But God's Word says it is love that builds others up. And He wants me to be "others" focused, not "me" focused.

In verses 2 and 3 of chapter 8, Paul writes, "The man who thinks he knows something does not know as he ought to know. But the man who loves is known by God." They say one can have book smarts but no street smarts. Knowledge without experience - just as knowledge without humility - can be a dangerous thing.

I thought I knew stuff about marriage, until I got married. I remember having theories about raising children, until I had children. I had supposed knowledge, but I had no personal experience. What I know now has come from lessons taught me by God through trial and error. I understand now how my "preconceived knowledge" could have come across as looking prideful and puffed up. I thought I knew something! I also know that God humbles the proud and most of life, for that reason, has not turned out the way I planned. Instead, through my experiences, God is teaching me His ways and making it better!

In his sermon notes on 1 Corinthians 8:1, Chuck Smith writes, "He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool, shun him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student, teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is a teacher, learn from him." Pretty profound way to put it, I think!

On the other hand, "love builds up". Verse 9 of chapter 8 says, "Be careful...that your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." The best example I can think of with reference to a stumbling block is alcohol consumption. One person might be able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and have no trouble drinking in moderation and on occasion. But he may have a friend who battles to stay sober every day, who almost lost his marriage or his life to alcoholism. One person's freedom to drink can be another person's stumbling block. Flaunting your liberty, knowingly or unknowingly (unannounced to you, he may see you 3 tables over in the restaurant, or in the check out line at the grocery store), may cause him to feel if he can handle it, maybe I can too this time. That one drink he was tempted to try because of your liberty could cause him to fall back into a hopeless addiction. In the same way, having alcohol or other "stumbling blocks" in your home send the message to your children that drinking or whatever it is, is okay. They say whatever the parent does in moderation, the child may do in excess. So because we as parents set the standard, we have to be overly cautious about what our actions communicate as okay - and not just by our standards, but God's.

The puffed up believer "may seek to intellectually defend [their] freedom to drink and defy all correction on the matter. Yet if [he] truly loves [his] brother [he] would not puff up himself, but...would seek to build him up, for love builds up," says Chuck Smith.

In chapter 8, Paul concludes that if eating meat causes his brother to stumble, he would not eat meat the rest of his days in order to not offend the weaker brother. "Meat" can be replaced by any number of modern day stumbling blocks. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says, "Everything is permissible for me - but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." Insisting that what I do is nobody's business would be prideful. A brother's eyes, a child's eyes, a neighbor's eyes, somebody's eyes are always watching. Laying it down means I am putting my brother (or sister, or child) above my own fleshly desires. Laying stumbling blocks down, whether they be alcohol, drugs, excessive living, immoral TV shows, music or movie choices, etc., and not compromising for the sake of a craving, an impulse, a whim or that's walking in love!

Father, I ask You to deflate any pride hidden within and help me to walk in love and humility. Show me where I may be causing others to stumble and help me correct my ways. I want my life to please You, and point others to - and not away from - You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Smith, Chuck. "1 Corinthians 8:1." The Word for Today. Blue Letter Bible. 1 May 2005.

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