1 Corinthians 8
Would it surprise you to know that in a discussion about issues that people disagree on, Paul would bring up the subject of pride? The Corinthians disagreed on a lot, what to eat, how to worship, what was moral behavior, and more. Paul kind of leads with this in chapter one (1:10) saying that he ‘appealed to them’ to get rid of the divisions and live in unity with one another.
Now here, in chapter 8, Paul is in the middle of working through one of their many dividing issues. But instead of focusing on the issue, I’d like to hone in on some wisdom that Paul shares about unity in the body.
“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up”
We shouldn’t be mistaken. Paul is not saying that knowledge itself is bad, or that the desire to pursue knowledge is in itself prideful. He’s not suggesting that we should pursue love instead of pursuing knowledge. Not at all. It seems that what Paul is concerned with is what that knowledge does in us and how we share that knowledge.
Do you like to be the smartest person in the room. That’s pride.
Do you use your tone of voice to make people feel dumb because they don’t know what you do. That’s pride.
And here’s an important thing to note… we’ll only really know that we are building up (or edifying) with our knowledge by how others respond. Edifying is not something we can claim.
“I hereby edify you!”
Nope. Not how it works.
If you think that you are sharing your knowledge with love, it will be evident by the unity that you are helping to create. When Scripture calls us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9, James 3:18) it implies actively building peace and unity. Being a peacemaker is more than just not shooting anyone. A peacemaker makes peace as opposed to division, they edify and build up those around them.
Picture a person filled with knowledge who you just love to be around because of the way they make you want to know more, to be better, simply because of the kindness and grace with which they speak. Their whole demeanor draws you to them. Sounds a lot like Jesus, if you ask me. It also sounds like the kind of person Paul is calling us to be.