Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 1 Corinthians 8:1-2
Paul is saying if someone comes to us with a problem, having the right answer isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter whether their problem is to do with food sacrificed to idols or something more relevant to our culture. We might be well qualified and able to give the right doctrinally correct response in any given circumstance, but that’s not enough. If we respond by simply telling someone what they ought to do, it is not enough.
The other part of our response is love. Do we genuinely care about the person we are giving advice to? Or are we only interested in how wise and clever we sound? Paul tells us knowledge alone puffs us up and makes us proud. If we genuinely want to help someone we do so in love.
Selwyn Hughes often said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways to show we care is by listening. Most people can work out for themselves what they should do. Yet they find it helpful to have a sounding board, a listening ear, so they can talk through the issues with someone who will listen objectively, and allow them to come to their own conclusions.
The Amplified Bible puts the verse like this: “Mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up …, but love … edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow (to his full stature).”
If we respond with love, not information, we encourage others to grow to their full potential.