Knowledge Without Wisdom is Dead: "Now about food sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge [concerning this]. Knowledge [alone] makes [people self-righteously] arrogant, but love [that unselfishly seeks the best for others] builds up and encourages others to grow [in wisdom]." (1 Corinthians 8:1, AMP)

Knowledge Without Wisdom Is Dead

Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.

(1 Corinthians 8:1, NLT)

This verse has been on my mind a lot lately. I am a lifelong learner. I love learning, researching, and studying. One of my favorite things in life is teaching. Our culture values knowledge and education. It’s not that knowledge is bad. It becomes a problem when knowledge becomes an end in itself; it becomes our god. And that leads to some serious problems. 

5 Problems With Knowledge as an End

1. The first problem with having only knowledge is pride.

The verse says knowledge makes us feel important. Other translations say it “puffs up.” Knowledge gives us a sense of self-importance and often a feeling of superiority which leads to the second problem.

2. The second problem is we can disregard people.

Making knowledge all-important in our lives tends to cause us to judge people and lose that vulnerability we should have in real relationships. We can easily develop an unteachable attitude and become so self-assured that we aren’t willing to discuss topics or try to understand another person’s viewpoints. When we are puffed up, we have no room for other’s ideas or opinions or even considering the possibility that we might be wrong in any way.

3. Third, we miss out on wisdom.

According to Scripture, if we lack wisdom, we need to ask God for it. Wisdom isn’t something we can study up for. We can learn from the wisdom of others, I suppose, but in our world today, we truly need God’s wisdom to guide our thoughts and lives. The two best ways to get God’s wisdom is to read His Word (and know it) and to pray.

4. Fourth, we miss out on what really makes life worth living.

We miss out on relationships filled with kindness and love when all we care about is being the most knowledgeable in the group. Knowledge has no compassion or understanding. 

5. Fifth, we mistake knowledge for truth.

That may seem absolutely absurd to some, but think about it. We are taught what is accepted as truth. We’re taught the knowledge of the day, and when people decide that knowledge is outdated or some other theory makes more sense, we leave that knowledge behind or shame those who still hold onto it. 

Knowledge Alone is Not Enough

Now, with all this, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying we should all be ignorant. Remember, I love learning and knowledge and teaching. However, I am saying relying only on our knowledge, no matter how immense it may be, is not enough. We need more. To be fully human, to be fully alive, we must embrace more than education and knowledge. We must mix it thoroughly with human kindness, love, and an appreciation for beauty. We must mix in great amounts of Godly wisdom and His Truth. It is the only truth that changes lives and sets us free from Satan’s lies. 

As we teach children, helping them embrace these other elements is also important. Teaching them yes/no, right/wrong, and a bunch of facts will not allow them to become who God intends for them to be. 

We become who God wants us to be in abiding in Christ (John 15) and the being still and knowing He is God (Psalm 46:10) and in the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1). 

The Bible teaches a better way.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

The Bible does not condemn knowledge, just the pursuit of knowledge alone. The Bible teaches us that along with knowledge, we need wisdom and understanding. Wisdom goes beyond facts and understanding goes to the human heart and its needs. We must see the importance of these three together especially as we navigate the troubled waters of our society today. If we cannot seek understanding and compassion along with our knowledge and seek God’s wisdom in bringing His healing and plan into action, we will miss out on what God can do in and through our lives. We will miss out on His perfect will and in becoming the people He intends for us to be. 

Do These Instead

In times like these, we really have no room for pride and being puffed up by anything such as knowledge alone, emotional fear and anger, self-righteousness, or “righteous” indignation. If we want to make a real change and see a real difference in our world, we must:

  1. Seek God’s wisdom and understanding
  2. Humble ourselves before God and confess our sins
  3. Forgive those who’ve hurt us
  4. Be guided by God’s love He’s given us
  5. Act on the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of God

Until we’re ready to do these five things, we may cause more harm than good in the long run in whatever we try to do. 

Books that Spark: A Podcast for Parents

A book I recommend for opening up a discussion of these things is Maybe God Is Like That Too by Jennifer Grant (listen in on my interview with her in August on Books that Spark podcast). In this book, a young boy sees the acts of people around him and how they reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The book reveals the character of God at work in and through our lives to affect those around us. 

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