Knowledge is the gateway to freedom. But my freedom may cause another to become shackled. When this happens, the fragrance that once surrounded my thinking becomes a stench before God. Let me give a hypothetical cultural example. From Scripture, I learn that I am to love people. In American culture, it is common and acceptable in most situations for a man to hug a woman. Let us say I travel to India where such action is frowned upon. Because of my knowledge of Scripture and my own culture, I have no problem hugging an Indian woman in the presence of my Indian brothers because I am free to express love with no sense of guilt or temptation. Now two things have occurred.
First, my knowledge rationalized conduct that truly is culturally insensitive. Second, my freedom may cause my Indian brothers observing me to conclude that my conduct is acceptable—since I am a mature believer. In reality, what I have done is harmful. If my Indian brother hugs another Indian woman (because he saw me doing so), he may feel sensations I would not feel that indeed cause him to stumble. He may also cause his Indian sister harm for what his actions do to her.
1 Corinthians 8:1,2, 10-12—About food offered to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it . . . For if somebody sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.
Did you catch that last sentence? Wounding another person’s conscience is not only wrong; it is a direct sin against God’s Son! God’s Word is by manifestation liberating. However, spiritual growth in understanding must be tempered by sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Otherwise, we may inadvertently feed a pride tumor that silently lurks in the recesses of our mind. In our knowledge, we dismantle what looks like legalism and feel smug. But when our actions damage one whose faith is tender and whose reliance on law is more rigid we are wrong.
Knowledge that comes from God always sets concern for others above personal freedom. The Bible calls this love. Therefore, I will do what is best for those around me to feed their spiritual growth because I love them. I will not do what I am liberated to understand as permissible if my action might cause another to sin. If we are not careful, that self-obsessive, inflated, Satan-spawned thing called conceit will erect crosses instead of bridges. Learn from the Son who could have done whatever the earth He wanted but instead refrained for the glory of His Dad and the edification of His brothers and sisters.
That’s something to think about . . . in reveration!
It is not only for humility’s sake (that , of course) that we must emphasize the dimness of our knowledge. I suspect that, save by God’s direct miracle, spiritual experience can never abide introspection.—C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)