Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, March 5

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

St. Paul knew how to call a spade a spade. Whether you agree with him or not, you know where he stands. For many years, I have led Bible study classes on the Sunday Lectionary (the readings for each Sunday), and nearly every week one of Paul's epistles is on our agenda. It has been most enlightening.

I have not always appreciated St. Paul—in fact, I avoided reading his epistles because, among other things, I didn't like his stand on women in church. But I was doing what a friend of mine says her mother always warned her not to do: being down on something she wasn't up on.

After years of studying Paul's writings, I finally admitted that I was
wrong. I have grown to appreciate this prolific old codger, on many levels. For instance, in the above passage he writes to a community of Christians who were quarreling amongst themselves. Some of them were "smarter" than others and they didn't want to be hindered by those who weren't.

Paul puts them in their place in no time. He, who was plenty smart himself, told them clearly that love was more important than knowledge, and that the "smart" ones should act accordingly.

What a great lesson this is for us today. I tend to give far too much credit and credence to those who have degrees, credentials and reputations for being brilliant. Paul reminds me that this kind of knowledge can be a dangerous thing unless it is built on love, and that in the scale of things, love is more important.

It's no wonder that later in this letter he wrote: "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)

God of love, help us to build our lives on love rather than knowledge, and open our minds as well as our hearts to hear difficult truths. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.