Knowledge and Love: A Sermon on 1 Cor. 1:8-13
Knowledge and Love
1 Corinthians 1:8-13
† In Jesus Name †
As you experience the length and width, the height and depth of God’s love for you, may your knowledge be tempered by the love that God creates in your life, as you live your life through Him
Given a choice.. which will you choose for those you love?
There is a cute picture floating around the internet, of one of these.
It says above it, “it doesn’t matter how old or mean you are, when w toddler hands you one of these and say’s ‘it’s for you’, you take it and start talking into it.”
I think that is pretty much true, and I am tempted to try it on some of you afterward.
It’s because we care for our children, or grandchildren, or nephews or nieces or students. Or in the case of the teachers, our students. We love them, and they can melt the hardest heart.
So I want to think of that kid, who could get you to answer one of these. Close your eyes, picture them in your mind and answer this question.
If you could choose what would be said about them at the end of their lives, would you desire it to be said they were geniuses, or that they loved and cared for the people around them and made a difference in their lives?
Not a difficult decision, or at least I would hope that it wouldn’t it be!
And in our gospel reading this morning, this is what the apostle Paul is talking about. And it is what we are talking about this morning, Knowledge and love.
Importance versus building up the community?
If I may, I would like to use a personal example. When I was younger, there was this game called trivial pursuit. Some of you may be familiar with it.
I loved it! And I was…. pretty good at it. Enough so that I usually won and proved the apostle Paul correct when he said, knowledge makes us feel important. Some translations phrase it a little differently. Knowledge puffs us up talking about our egos, and our minds. And then one day, I looked at the name of the game again…
Trivial Pursuit. What I was doing was chasing after what was trivial, what was meaningless. And in the end, about all odd bits of knowledge were good for was putting little pieces of plastic inside another piece of plastic and annoying some friends.
While there is a lot of knowledge that isn’t trivial, there are enough examples of people who think they are more important than others because they have the knowledge given to them. I won’t list the occupations, but I bet you are thinking of one or two professions that act that way. Or you see yourself in this.
That is why Paul will say in chapter 13 if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NLT)
Instead of focusing on knowledge, Paul tells us it is love that builds the house, in this translation, it translates the house as church. But the concept works the same in the church, in the home, or in the community we call home.
In each, in our homes, in our church, in our community, it is love is what binds us together, it is love that makes that bond strong and causes us to grow as a family.
The challenge is loving others the way we love the kid handing us the phone.
In the example Paul uses, he talks about how this love changes us, using the example of food offered to idols.
For him, with all the knowledge of one who was a leading Jewish theologian and became the greatest of Christian pastor-theologians, the idea of food offered to idols was silly.
The idols were carved pieces of wood or rock, metal fashioned to look like how man imagined God to be. And because there was no inherent power in them, because they weren’t gods, eating the food someone else dedicated to them was of no great importance.
But it was of great importance to those who didn’t know different. They saw the world as a cosmic battle between these false gods and the One True God who came to us, love us and died for us.
And while knowledge would say debate with them and show them the truth, love said that we needed to remember they weren’t ready for to hear that; be patient. Winning the argument isn’t worth driving them from Jesus. We can go without being proved right in the small stuff, we can even go without that piece of bacon wrapped shrimp or stuffed pork chops rather than cause them to stumble and do what they thought was wrong.
It’s not worth the fight, it’s not worth the debate. Such debates can destroy faith, but love puts it in the correct priority… and eventually, love will straighten it all out.
How it happens
But how do we love others, especially when we some people are just darn difficult to love? And how do we teach our children, grandchildren, students and other children we come into contact with to love like Jesus loved us?
The answer on how to love like that, how to make a difference in someone else’s life isn’t found in some instruction manual, it isn’t found in a series of podcasts or videos.
It is found in knowing that we are God, as Paul said,
There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.
It is found in living for and in God that we find the love that changes us. It forgives and removes our sin, and makes us holy, set apart to love God, to love His people. It is something that is realized more than learned, something that we spend our life growing in, and as He changes us, we love, even those others see as unlovable.
For that is what knowing God’s love does, it changes us, and it gives us hope in the middle of what seems a lost and broken world. That is why we are here, and why we have a place for kids, who will hand us a phone, and learn from us how to love. As we learn it from God our Father. AMEN!