Q. I study the Word a lot and know quite a bit. But I feel stuck and wonder how I can really grow in spirit and faith.
A. Wow, that’s quite a question and you should really sit down with the Elders of your Assembly and chat the issue through with them. They care for you, know you and will be able to guide you into real spiritual growth.
However, as I prayed over your question, 1 Cor 8:1-3 came to mind. It says: Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
When Paul addresses the Corinthian controversy about eating food offered to idols, he contrasts love and knowledge and makes an issue concerning our insatiable quest for knowledge. Why do we want to know things? God forbad Adam and Eve from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden because above knowing right and wrong, He wanted His creation to know Him! It’s in knowing Him that all knowledge and understanding falls into place. And 1 Cor 8 tells that you get to know Him by loving Him.
God makes it clear that knowledge alone ‘puffs up’ – like an infected wound. Knowledge is necessary, but it needs love and without love it breeds emptiness and pride. Love, however, builds up.
When people are around you, do they get glimpses of God? Or do they just see a lot of knowledge?
We are called upon to study, indeed eat, the Word of God so that:
- God, by the Holy Spirit, may reveal Himself to us, draw us by His love and inflame our hearts to love Him;
- We may hear from Him, and do, what His desire is. Jesus said that our love for Him is expressed by doing what He says;
- We may be instructed and equipped to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ, the Body of Christ.
Knowledge for its own sake is harmful; LOVE is the thing! Love is better than knowledge. 1 Jn 4:12 says, ‘No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.’ The best way we can love one another is to fellowship with God, receive from Him and share His love with each other.
Be mindful of where your brother is. Don’t be puffed up with your knowledge of the truth; hold it as food for him. Knowledge is important, but it’s not enough, because knowledge without love amounts to nothing. Without love, we could be brilliant players but only killing the team. We’re not building up our brothers; we’re making them feel dumb. We’re wounding their consciences; not stirring them up to love and good deeds. In 1 Cor 8:11 Paul goes on to say He goes on to say, ‘And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?’
When talking about the Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Cor 12:7, Paul says, ‘the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal’ (for the common good.) God didn’t gift you for you; He gifted you for us all. You’ve got to be constantly thinking, How can I build up the people around me?
In God’s eyes real knowledge is using what you know from Him to love. Paul says that if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
He doesn’t say that if you know information about God, you are known by God. It’s when you love God, not just understand truths about Him, but actually LOVE HIM – that’s when He knows you. It has everything to do with LOVE. It’s about RELATIONSHIP.
Maybe you’ve been studying the life of Christ and His statements, and thinking hard about Him for years. But does your life look anything like His? Spend time ‘visiting’ with God; it’s His plan to transform you into the image of His Son. And He alone can do it. See Rom 8:29. Stop trying to achieve; sit in God’s Presence, with His Word; enjoy Him – and let Him enjoy you!