Friday, July 31, 2015

If You Get It Right, But Do It Without Love, It's Worthless

Here's a perfect illustration of what it's like to have true ideas and knowledge, but fail to love your neighbor:

Paul says even if he had all knowledge but didn’t love, he would amount to nothing. In other words, you can be brilliant and worthless.
It would be like a great basketball player who never misses a shot but keeps shooting into the opponent’s basket. He may say, “I was five for five today from the three-point line,” but his teammates would respond, “But you’re killing our team! You’re shooting at the wrong basket!” He answers confidently, “But I did not miss.”
That is the kind of attitude that Paul is confronting here. You might be brilliant, but you’re killing our team. You’re not building up the brothers; you’re making them feel dumb and wounding their conscience. You’re not stirring them up to love and good deeds. You just keep making them feel inadequate. By your knowledge, this weaker brother is being destroyed! - Francis Chan, "Think Hard, Stay Humble"
"You're killing our team." That captures what it's like if you win the arguments but fail at connecting with the other person in love. There is no virtue in being right unless you also display Christ in a way that shows people why He is so wonderful. The text Francis Chan was speaking of is 1 Corinthians 8:1–3:
"Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."
Chan explains the passage well: The Corinthians 'in the know' have been "saying, 'You know what? We all know. We all possess this knowledge.' It had an attitude: 'Come on. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as idols.' Paul says that this kind of knowledge puffs up. It’s all about you. It’s cold and stale and all about you having the knowledge. In other words, Paul says, 'An idol doesn’t have any real existence. We know that. You’re right.' But then in verse 7 he says, 'However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.'
"He says some of the Corinthian believers have this knowledge, but not all of them do. Some aren’t ready yet for the application of such knowledge. And the “stronger,” more knowledgeable believers need to be mindful of where their “weaker” brothers are and not have this attitude toward them: 'Well, we all know that.' This type of knowledge puffs up. But love builds up."
Chan really hit home when he described the comments he sees Christians posting on blogs. Think about what you put on Facebook, blogs, etc.: does it pass the test of being totally directed at loving and building up your neighbor? Chan summed up the biblical purpose for knowledge this way: "Our knowledge should be pressed into the service of love. It should serve to build each other up. That’s what love does. It builds up. It looks to help others, not hurt them."
Otherwise, all your efforts to be accurate and biblical will be meaningless. Paul didn't pull punches about this: he said his whole ministry was worthless if he failed the test of love. "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:2-3) (emphasis mine).
Don't let your labor and effort to "get it right" end up being meaningless. If it isn't made complete by love, it does no good to your neighbor's soul. Which means it made no difference at all. Our goal is not to be proved right. Our goal is to prove the truth of God's love by being a living example of it, so that we bring people into communion with the God who can illuminate all darkness and transform the mind and heart.

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