“Knowledge puffeth up…” (1 Corinthians 8:1)
We have written before on this site that many ideas, concepts, teachings, and actions are and act as a double-edged sword. We made the point that, to be a witness is to be used of God in His saving of souls and in the witnessing against them if they refuse God’s love. The Christ-ian witness works both ways. In this article we will (DV) write of more swords of the double-edged variety.
Knowledge is powerful. Knowledge, of course, can be used for good and evil. One can use rat poisoning to keep the rat population from growing and spreading disease. Rat poison can also be used to kill a spouse that puts the milk in the wrong spot in the refrigerator. The person that combines the chemicals to make the rat poison compound probably never meant for his product to be used to kill a person. Likewise, knowledge was meant to better man and to better society (I’m not referring to the tree of knowledge). Knowledge should enhance the lives of its student, and it does, but knowledge is a double-edged sword.
Knowledge enhances a person and his life and changes his outlook on life. When a person learns of God and salvation through His only begotten Son, all things become new; including world views such as opinions, ideas, and actions. The knowledge of God’s Son changes the course and direction of one’s life and eternal destiny. As you grow in the knowledge of God and in the Christ-ian life, many things can happen. Your mindset can take different paths. The knowledge of God should cause you to become a person of humility, compassion, thankfulness, etc., However, it can also puff you up. By puffing you up we mean building up your pride. This is abnormal. When knowledge makes one proud something has gone wrong.
Knowledge is a gift. If you grow in knowledge you should acknowledge God’s kindness and His giving of gained and increasing knowledge. When knowledge enlarges the ego and allows one to belittle others, something has gone dangerously wrong. This kind of pride, which certainly affects a person spiritually, is a great offense to God. Whenever anything causes you to set yourself over others, this is not of God, for (s)atan can educate as well. Consider the schools of higher education. Education has become a tool to spread wickedness and wrong thinking. This “education” is not of God, but is against God.
When we were younger we were tossed to and fro in our dealing with stress. We would become physically affected by our allowance of wrong thinking. God led us into the study of logic and critical thought. For this we thank and praise Him for His tender care and the compassion He showed to us, and our faith in God grew as our fears lessened. Fear and worry can not coexist. One must give way to the other.
However, with this understanding of logic and right thinking we learned to recognize the lack of logic and the prevalence of wrong thinking in others. This, to His glory, did not cause pride in us but frustration. We grew frustrated with the decisions, actions, and wrong thinking of others. We found ourselves uttering, “What,!?” “Why,?” “How?” when we would hear what others have said, thought, and done. Logic and right thinking was a double-edged sword. Instead of remaining frustrated we have learned to guide and help others in the area of their thinking and decision making. We do not claim to be smarter than others; God forbid! We have, however, been given the gift of a renewed, renewing, sound, and developing mind. Therefore, we seek to use it to God’s glory and the benefit of His people.
Very often we find friends re-posting and believing false reports on Facebook. We try to point out to them the reasons the “news” article is fallacious or false. We know we risk offending some, but it is a risk well taken. Most have proven themselves wise and received the instruction well, showing themselves to be one of Solomon’s wise children. We often hear someone say something that is rank with error and again we risk much, but we find a way to tactfully and tenderly correct their thinking. Again, we do not think our selves as smarter, but simply taught of God in the area of thought and discernment. We certainly make our share of mistakes and catch ourselves thinking illogically and wrongly, but we catch it and correct it. In this we seek to help others.
We are reminded of the “Great Knock,” William T. Kirkpatrick. This man is not a man well known to history, but he is well known to those who see value in C.S. Lewis. When he was a young man, Lewis was sent to Kirkpatrick for tutoring. Lewis called his tutor a personification of logic [think Spock]. When Lewis arrived in Bookham, the home of the Knock, he said that it was not what he had expected. To this kind of small talk, the Knock responded with “STOP, Upon what basis did you build your expectation?” At other times Knock Kirkpatrick would question his wife’s friends with “What exactly do you mean?” He was not belittling anyone, he was simply asking for support of one’s statement.
We have often found that this form of verbal jiu-jitsu is extremely effective in “stopping their mouths.” We have frequented comment sections online and have found people making the most inane of statements. These commenters spew unfounded, un-supported, and un-researched fiction. They are simply types of human emoticons spewing the vomit of envy, pride, dissatisfaction, hate, ignorance, bitterness, malice, and blatant falsehoods. I have found that the best way to counter these imbecilic statements is to ask, ” Can you support that comment with any facts?” or “Can you cite one source for that comment?” The spewers of wickedness all shut down and crumble like a century old barn. On my part, I am seeking to educate these bitter spewers, but on their part, they are simply shredding their credibility and disallowing others to take them seriously. We have also found that in these commenting sections the spewers encourage each other in their unsupported vomit.
Learning the (“martial”) art and science of logical and critical thought has become a double-edged sword, but it is a sword we will be ever thankful to wield against fallacies, falsehoods, and faux vomit.
Question: How do you keep yourself from being puffed up with the God-given gift of knowledge and the God-given ability to learn? Answer: You must always acknowledge God in your learning. You must always remember to bring God into the equation of intelligence and learning. Intelligence is a gift, after all. Is it not? And if knowledge, intellect, and the ability to understand and to comprehend is a gift, why does one grow in pride? The intellect is a God-given gift. It is given and allowed to develop per God’s great grace. There is no place for puffed up; there is only space for thankfulness and love.
Love is another way to balance the increase of knowledge. One should love God and demonstrate love to others by using the increase of knowledge to God’s Glory and man’s benefit. Paul tells us that our gifts are for the perfecting of the saints. This is a demonstration of Christ-ian love and the right use of God’s gift of the intellect. In my mind. intellect equals leadership, and one should lead others into the area of increased knowledge. If one uses this gift of intellect and knowledge to lord over others or to belittle others, it is using God’s gift for (s)atanic purposes and pleasures. This ought not to be. One way to use knowledge and to remain humble is to know that one knows so little and to acknowledge there is so much more to learn. One must realize that learning is absorbing the letter aaaaand the spirit. For if one absorbs only the letter it tends to kill and puff up.
Knowledge is like a tool. One may know what it is used for but not how to use it rightly and beneficially. If we were Catholic we would canonize one Bezaleel as the Patron saint of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, aaaand workmanship. Bezaleel was “filled with the [S]pirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work all manner of workmanship.” Bezaleel was given his knowledge and he knew what to do with it. [Side note: Bezaleel is a Christ-type or prefiguration of Christ].
Bezaleel was to be used to work on the Ark of the Covenant and this had to be done right; hence the filling of the [S]pirit. Bezaleel was to use this intellect to glorify God and to put forth a great work of God that would point to Christ. I used the words, this intellect and not his intellect. Bezaleel’s intellect was a gifting of God for a certain purpose. The purpose, we know now, to be a picture or type that points to Christ.
This is true of us today. Our intellect, whatever or however developed, is a gift from God. It is one of the ways we reflect God’s Image back to Him and to His glory. A person may not pride himself\herself upon their great intellect, for it has been given for a purpose. One must must find this purpose and work therein. If you want to know if you’re using this gift properly, ask thyself, “Does my intellect glorify God? Does it demonstrate a Christ-likeness? Does it benefit others? If one can answer in the affirmative, there you go. If not…….There you go.