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By your knowledge, this weak brother or sister is destroyed

Posted by on Oct 2, 2012 in discipleship | 10 comments

By your knowledge, this weak brother or sister is destroyed

Paul begins a section (1 Corinthians 8-10) of his first letter to the Corinthians by stating, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” As Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Unfortunately, according to Paul, knowledge without love is powerfully destructive. Certainly, love can work within a framework of knowledge, but we should never approach one another from knowledge alone without love.

The following verse falls within that same section – a section in which Paul is teaching about living with and accepting one another in spite of theological differences:

And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. (1 Corinthians 8:11 ESV)

Later in this same letter, Paul will tell the Corinthians that if they do anything without love – even if they are working through a gift of the Holy Spirit without love – then their actions are worthless and done in vain. This is a strong statement, and I am glad that I did not make it. But, Paul made it very clear: our interaction with one another should always be done out of love and concern for one another. If we are “right” or correct about our fact but unloving, then we are wrong.

How does this connect to helping people follow Jesus Christ as his disciples? Well, in following Jesus, we all make mistakes. From time to time, everyone stops following him – even if for a brief moment – and we all require correction or rebuke from our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us get back on the right track.

When writing to the disciples in the region of Galatia, Paul reminds them to help those who are caught in some trespass. In this passage to the believers in Corinth, we see that this help cannot come from our knowledge alone. If we approach people only from our knowledge – we are right, and they are wrong- then we may end up “destroying” someone’s life. But, if we approach the person out of love for that individual, we build that person up instead of destroying him or her.

In knowledge, we seek to prove that we are right. But, in love, we have another goal. This section of 1 Corinthians mentioned above contains very important lessons about dealing with our brothers and sisters out of love instead of knowledge. For example, Paul acknowledges that there is no problem eating food sacrificed to idols because idols are nothing. However, he says that if this practice bothers one of his brothers or sisters, then he will never eat meat again! We may think that would be a drastic step to take. But Paul thinks it is worth giving up meat in order to help someone else follow Christ.

Paul could deal with this brother or sister out of his knowledge, telling them that he is free to eat meat offered to idols and continuing to eat that meat. However, he refuses to consider his own freedom in Christ, and, instead, makes himself a servant to that other disciple. He knows that his knowledge could cause problems to someone else, so he decides to respond in love, caring more about the other believer than himself.

Why? Because Paul knows what his goal is. His goal is not to live in his own freedoms. His goal is to help others follow Jesus Christ and to become more mature in him.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 10-2-2012

    Great post. As Christians we have a high calling, one which includes showing love and sharing knowledge. As in everything we do, the challenge is to keep it balanced. The necessity is to do it all with a spirit of Christian love.

  2. 10-2-2012

    Great post.

    “In knowledge, we seek to prove that we are right. But, in love, we have another goal.” — that is what boils down to for me. Motive.

    WHY do I feel the need to share this knowledge with this person? WHY do I feel the need to correct this person? Questions of motive will help us determine if it is a Spirit-lead nudge to share knowledge (in the form of correction or teaching) or personal motive lead nudge.

    I think your example of Paul is very interesting. Paul really just is the epitome to me in many ways of freedom. He didn’t hold on to ANYTHING too closely except Christ, it seems – from his writings & his actions. He really could be all things to all people or whatever that phrase is. That’s the beauty of freedom! flexibility, adaptability

  3. 10-2-2012


    Thanks. Perhaps that’s what Peter meant when he wrote, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”


    Thanks again. I think motive is a good test. Of course, we can always lie to ourselves about our motives. But, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.


  4. 10-2-2012

    I disagree with ur statement “Paul will tell the Corinthians that if they do anything without love – even if they are working through a gift of the Holy Spirit without love”

    First God is Love and in Him there is no darkness at all…

    If the persons of God I.E. The Holy Spirit can not in operation contradict Love. Someone is not operating in the HS if this is not evident to the body in which one is expressing gifting. Outside of a relational fellowship any operation is null and should be disregarded no matter how its expressed, Preaching teaching etc. following your reasoning Using the term in the HS thus is binary. (NOT) The operation of the gifts of the spirit in Man are imperfect. Jesus is the only one that only did what the Father spoke to Him to do.. LOVE….. One could use a measure for all 5 fold Ministerial expression then to say no one on earth is following this reasoning of Love. Preachers speak loud because there wasn’t good sound systems during Sem, so they holler. NOT LOVE Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” was/is written to those of the Faith That are in fellowship with one another and accountable to each other for the corporate and individual expressions of gifting.. subject to one another….Can a group express perfectly in the HS? great post Alan

  5. 10-2-2012


    Thanks for the comment. My statement was a reflection on several statements made by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 in which he tells someone not to exercise a spiritual gift if it does not edify others. In my understanding of those passages, the spiritual gift is real, but the motivation in exercising that gift (especially in the context of gathering with other believers) could be off.


  6. 10-2-2012


    Francis Bacon is one of my forbears. He may be right in what he says, but, as you show,according to Scripture, knowledge without love is dangerous.

    I observe another serious mistake being made today; the assumption that knowledge infers wisdom. Not so!

    The loving use of knowledge must be accompanied by wisdom.

  7. 10-2-2012

    I am clicking, “notify me of follow up comments by email” but they aren’t coming to my email… even though I’ve hit the Confirm email message I get after I comment…. do you know why?

    and yes, I can be good at convincing myself of good motives. The Spirit will show us the truth of our motives if we ask & listen.

  8. 10-2-2012


    Someone told me about the problem with the comment notifications a few days ago. There was an update last weekend that I hoped fixed it, but I guess not. I’ll keep investigating.


  9. 10-3-2012


    That reference in Corth is Paul’s encouragement to a specific church and it functionary responsibility. Paul was addressing a specific problem this body exhibited…. namely disorder in the corporate expression of gifting … Certainly one could apply globally if I knew the exact Condition and state of these believers in that day. Outside of this exercising caution to apply to everyone and every expression is indicated. As you point out These issues are not localized to the early church. Making discussion about Paul’s letter important. I use a simplistic allegorical illustration.. you have a car (salvation) you say to the one who gave you the car (God) “Listen thx for the car I’m afraid to put gas in it”(gifting Corth 5 fold )” I/We might get into a accident if I do. GOD Yes there have been those. (US) see I told you I’ll leave mine in the garage thank you very much. So Paul’s word there is to both the garaged cars and the one getting into accidents. Garaged one OK you have seen miss use don’t stop attending and being together with others.. to the Accident prone ones… hey you better straighten up… you thought you could say anything. well you cant people who barley understand are present…speak what you want to say passed the elders before saying it to everyone… It is more then possible to fill up put 10 bucks in with gas and not have a accident Perfect Love.

    LOL Peter

  10. 10-3-2012


    I think you misunderstood my comment. I am not in favor of “speak what you want to say past the elders before saying it to everyone.” I was pointing out that Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians, he said there are times when gifts should not be exercised. For example, if exercising a gift would not edify other people, then it should not be exercised when gathering with others. The person exercising that gift would be exercising a real gift, but not in love for others – which is the response to your previous comment.

    By the way, every book/letter of the New Testament was written to a particular group of people at a particular time for a particular reason.