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Do you have more knowledge than love?

iStock/Getty Images Plus/EtiAmmos
iStock/Getty Images Plus/EtiAmmos

Would your family members and co-workers say that you have more knowledge or more love? After all, they are in the best position to know the answer to that question, right?

Knowledge is certainly a necessary part of life, but love is even more critical. In fact, knowledge without love often does more harm than good.

The Apostle Paul penned these profound words to the church in Corinth: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Unfortunately, man tends to become quite proud of his intellect, while being less inclined to love others and build them up. 

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Man often elevates himself in his own mind with all sorts of compliments and special honors. But how often do you and I go out of our way to do the same for others? Scripture instructs us: “Love must be sincere … honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:9-10). Why are we at times so fixated on ourselves, and almost oblivious to the needs of others?

The false gospel of self-esteem in America teaches people that it is all about you and your feelings for yourself. Scripture, on the other hand, teaches us that it is all about God and what He has done to secure our eternal salvation.

So do you possess more knowledge, or more love? What motivates you: feelings of intellectual superiority, or humble acts of mercy, love and compassion? And would the people who know you best agree with your personal assessment?

While we are tempted to take credit for our intellect and knowledge, Paul reminded those in Corinth: “Who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). 

Man’s sinful nature is proud rather than humble, and selfish rather than selfless. Sin produces arrogance and self-centeredness.

Thankfully, spiritual conversion brings about a radical change in a person’s life. Christ suddenly becomes the central focus of your thoughts. And every time you say “No” to the selfishness and self-centeredness of your old nature, the love of God continues to fill your heart.

Obviously, this is not to say non-Christians know nothing about love and self-sacrifice. There are many unbelievers who make tremendous sacrifices for their family and their country. But at the end of the day, it comes down to where a person stands with our Creator. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Loving others is a noble task, but it cannot wash away even one of your sins. Forgiveness can only come from your Creator. And Scripture reveals that God forgives those who trust in Jesus as Savior.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).

Who would you be willing to die for? Would you really take a bullet to save their life? Knowledge alone is incapable of generating such a sacrifice. You wouldn’t go through with it unless you loved that person with all of your heart.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And the Lord took it a step further. He gave his life for us “while we were still sinners” and separated from God due to our sin. The only way we can receive God’s love into our hearts is to receive Jesus as our Savior.

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). You have undoubtedly received many people into your home over the years, but what about your heart? Have you received the King of Kings into your heart and life? Have you trusted Jesus to forgive your sins? Are you a follower of Christ?

“Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Have you gone out of your way recently to build someone up? Love makes a real effort every day. Meanwhile, self-centered people and internet trolls are too consumed with tearing people down.

But you don’t have to live that way. If you will accept the message of the Gospel and the love God offers you through His only Son, your heart will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. And this will make all the difference to those closest to you, and to everyone else you choose to encourage with God’s love.

C.S. Lewis stated, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” And what could be better than spending eternity in Paradise? Do you earnestly pray for the salvation of others?

The way you spend your time reveals your priorities. If you currently have more knowledge than love, God can fix that problem for you. When your heart is overflowing with God’s love, you are deeply concerned about the needs of others, and completely uninterested in obsessing over your God-given intellect.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthian 13:13).

So, would you like to have more love than knowledge? If so, you will need to get real with God and humble yourself before the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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