On first glance I thought I’d get through 1 Corinthians chapter 8 in one post, but that just shows how much I know. Here’s the passage, and I’m only going for verses 1-3 today. These three short verses are incredibly rich in content.
Many Bible commentators believe that many of the sayings in 1 Corinthians were Paul’s quotations of local proverbs popular with the Corinthian Christians. One of these is quoted in this verse: “We all have knowledge.” Today we might say: “Everybody knows . . .” Knowledge is fine, but it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. In our society, as in Corinth, knowledge, competence, learning, expertise are highly respected. If we overrate it, knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, or puffed up. I love the Greek word for this: phusioo. Pretty cool, huh? Animals puff themselves up to make themselves seem bigger, stronger, more frightening or sexually desirable than they really are. Compared to love, knowledge is insubstantial, like a blown-up balloon. Knowledge is good, but only when used by love to serve others. In contrast to the false illusion of puffing up of knowledge, love does something real. Love builds up. Love creates something more than an illusion of growth. Love gives us the genuine article.
The wiser you become, the less you realize you know. We give kids and young adults a hard time over this, but aren’t we older adults just as guilty? Sure, we may know what seems to us to be a great deal more than the kids (though maybe not so much about technology), but how must our limited understanding look to God? We can only hope He’s saying to Himself, with fatherly affection in His voice, “Look how sweet! She thinks she understands this. (Shakes head, smiling) Well, she’s still very, very young.” The song says: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . .” but what about ten million years? Ten billion? God’s knowledge is so vast, His wisdom so unending, that we’ll still be mere children to Him. So don’t let’s go congratulating ourselves on our great understanding just yet.
This statement is a little foggy. The condition that leads to the result is clear, though the result is a bit uncertain. The condition is: “If anyone loves God”. Since no good thing dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18), the love of God must also come from God. We are, on our own, incapable of genuine love. Like every other kingdom gift, this must be received by faith, which also comes from God as we hear and/or read His word. You may or may not feel this love immediately. Why do some people feel it and others do not? God knows. In my own experience, waiting in God’s presence quietly and meditating on His word will allow this feeling to grow. While God certainly expects us to take Him at His word, regardless of any feelings we may or may not experience, I do not believe that God has ordained a subclass of Christians who don’t get to feel His presence or their own love toward Him. We will not always or at all times sense these things, but have patience and faith. God will show Himself to you personally if you seek Him diligently.
The second part of this verse is more mysterious. I’m not sure why it would be unclear whether this phrase means “the one who loves God will know God”, or conversely, “God knows the one who loves Him”. Apparently it is unclear, though, according to my commentaries. If the former is correct, this is confirmed in many other scriptural passages, some of them earlier in this letter, 1 Corinthians 2:16, for example. If the second interpretation is correct, this most likely refers to God acknowledging the one who loves Him. Jesus says of the goats in Matthew 7:23, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” As God has knowledge of everyone and knows all men’s hearts, this makes more sense than if Paul were speaking of a simple empirical knowledge. I believe the second interpretation, that God acknowledges the one who loves Him is more likely in context, though it’s possible Paul intended both.
How many of us spend our lives trying to get “in”? We crave to be accepted and loved by others. We try to excell in our work so that we’ll be admired and thus accepted, or so that we can make loads of money and buy the best of everything so that we’ll be comfortable, be admired and thus accepted. We want people to look up to us and appreciate us. What lengths will a person go to in order to feel important and be treated with respect? What will a woman do to be considered desirable and to win the love of men and the acceptance of other women? What will a man do to win the love and admiration of a woman or the respect of other men? And as soon as we make it “in” to one circle it seems we discover a deeper, more desirable circle from which we’re excluded because we’re not quite good enough, not dedicated or trusted enough or not acceptable in some way beyond our control? God says, “You’re in. You are welcome and wanted. You are the adopted and chosen sons and daughters of God, joint heirs with Christ. The bride of Christ, in the most intimate and desirable relationship possible with God the Son, indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God Himself, incapable any longer of falling out of favor. Forever and always a part of the most inner of inner circles. Forever. In effect, God will say to the one who loves Him, “Welcome to My world, Beloved.”
Grace and Peace, and my the Love of God dwell in your hearts richly,