Knowledge Puffs up but Love Builds Up

From the Archives of Steve Curington | May 22, 2008

“We often look at this life as priceless.  But “We can learn all there is to know about God but still not be one step closer to God!”

Good Morning!  Information “about a person” is the building blocks of a personal relationship.  However, just because we know about a person does not mean we know that person.  I have learned a great deal about the late, great preacher Lester Roloff, but I don’t have a personal relationship with him.  As a matter of fact, no matter how much I learn about him, I never grow any closer to him.  Since his death, all that is available to me is information.

Yet, there are some who consider the acquisition of information as proof of a developing personal relation.  But it is not!  The Bible tells us “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”

Paul is telling us that knowledge puffs up but love builds up!  There is a big difference.  One person knows all the rules about what we can touch, eat or enjoy but the other person has a relationship which manifests itself in the first of nine fruits—love.  Charity is the outward manifestation of love to needy people.  There are a lot of people who know about Love, but they fail to show Love.  Why is Love capitalized?  Because God IS Love!  But of course you already KNEW that information!

Knowledge in our mind often leads us to overlook sin in our heart.  When we have learned so much about God we become comfortable with our data.  We can talk a good talk, but that is all information improves.  Information about God can improve your talk but it is only the fuel that your walk is going to burn.  It does not produce a walk with God.  It is simply the motivation for a dynamic walk.  But many prefer to stock up on fuel (information) and talk about Him, rather than burn it up through a dynamic walk with Him.

In Isaiah 47:10, 11  we are warned of the danger of being well informed but poorly developed in our walk with God.  “thou hast said, None seeth me (sins of the heart). Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.”  Oh, how much we know!  But it leads to a perversion of the heart.  We are subconscious of the fact that know one sees our heart, but we fail to recognize there is One who is conscious (not subconscious, but conscious) of our thoughts at all times!

The next verse tells this intelligent dummy “Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.”  I have met many a learned Christian who has sat in my office and wondered “why, oh why is all this evil befalling me”  when they have so applied themselves to learning the faith.  Oh, my friend, there is a big difference between learning the faith and living by faith.  One must know more, the other must know Him!

Paul warned all information gathers to beware of stupidity.  “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”  Notice what Paul says to the “puffed up information gatherer”?  “If any man think he know anything”.  Paul understood that to think you know is the crowning position of information gatherers.  “To think you know” is to be puffed up.  It’s pride!  Pride is the number one problem for us when we trust in our information gained or gleaned.

Isaiah warned us this way “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”  God was so frustrated with the learned children of Israel that He allowed these “God loving but information gathering hypocrites” to be blinded until He had clearly manifested Himself to the Gentiles in a personal and intimate way.

In Romans 11:25 we read “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Here was the Lord Jesus being presented to a heathen people group who knew NOTHING about Him, but they embraced Him none the less.  Why?  Because they got to KNOW Him.  Knowing about Him would come in time, but knowing Him was of far greater value.

Paul often warned us to beware of the pride that comes from having the supernatural ability to understand information about God.  In Romans 12:16 we see one such warning, “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.”

May I explain that verse to you?  Even to those of you who KNOW what it means?  The word condescend means to “descend from your privileged position to do some act to an inferior”.  Men of low estate are “men who have a fixed position of being low.”  The word low literally means “down”.  It’s referring to the depressed.  HE is telling us to “descend from our high position to minister to those who are depressed with their low position”.

But wait!  That’s not the final admonition.  He tells us to “be not wise in [our] own conceits.  The word conceit is a very important word to understand.  It means “to conceive in the mind”.  He is telling us to not allow our wisdom to come from that which we frame in our mind—acquired information.  The Bible tells us that in the age of grace “Christ is our Wisdom” and He imparts that Wisdom through the leading of His Spirit.

Thus, we should not be conceiving our opinions of whom we should help and how to help hurting people based on what we KNOW about them or about God.  Rather, we are to help people according to how we are led by God.  Leading is not a manifestation of one’s acquisition of information.  It is evidence of one’s development of a personal relation!

So we see that when we become learned about God, we can be in danger of becoming “high minded”, that’s pride.  Our pride will cause us to be condescending instead of actually condescending.  This condescending attitude does not instigate us to a condescending action.  Rather this puffed up attitude causes us to “look down” on hurting people rather than to “go down” to the hurting people.  These thoughts, which are conceived in the mind, come from all the knowledge we have gleaned over the years.

What does that mean?  It simply means we have put our learning in front of our loving.  God wants us to love.  It is from a position of love that we will truly learn.

Lovers are learners.  Learners are often the losers.

Thanks so much for loving us and our work on His behalf.

Steve Curington

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Steve Curington grew up in a Christian home and graduated from North Love Christian School in 1984. After high school, Steve started a 10-year addiction to alcoholism and cocaine. After a serious car accident, Steve found complete sobriety through his relationship with Jesus Christ. After his recovery in 1996, Steve began Reformers Unanimous, a faith-based addiction ministry. What started as a humble, Friday night addiction class with four regular attendees in Rockford, Illinois, grew to a class of more than 300 people from the community and then spread to other churches across the country and around the world. The founder of Reformers Unanimous International (RU) died suddenly on October 30, 2010. Mr. Curington, a husband and father of five children, was only 45, but he accomplished more in his 15 years of ministry than many do in a lifetime. We know his work, his writing, his voice, and his reach will live on.

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