Saturday, August 13, 2011

Knowledge and Love

I had a bit of a painful wake-up call recently. I was talking to someone (someone who loves me) and they said in an off-handed kind of way, “I know you hate stupid people.”
Do I really hate stupid people? Perhaps I do, and that’s bad enough itself, but of greater concern to me is the implication behind this sentence:  I make people feel stupid.
I don’t want to make people feel stupid, that’s not my heart.
Let me explain. See, I’m a universal sort of geek. It doesn’t really matter what the topic is: coffee or quantum physics; movies or economics, I would love to know everything about it. It has been incredibly difficult to accept that I actually cannot know everything about everything. It sounds like a joke, but it's true. I really would know everything if I could. I am perhaps not as interested in the Korean War or hydraulic engineering as I am in some other things but, if I had the time, I’d learn about them too. 
My preoccupation with knowledge has been no end of frustration to me. While I do believe that knowledge is a very good thing, what about those times when my drive to know and learn shakes my faith? What about those times when my pursuit of knowledge knocks people over?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2
As I considered the possibility that I “hate stupid people,” I recalled jokes and comments about me: how much I like to talk, how I like to argue, how I like to pick up bits of trivia, and I realized that, when describing me, rather than saying, “Sarah really loves people,” people are more likely to say, “Sarah likes to be right.”

I vividly remember a conversation I had with a friend of mine when he asked me what I wanted my legacy to be, how I wanted to be remembered. I thought about it and I said, “I want people to know that I loved, that I loved them and I loved others.
I can’t tell you how much this saddens me because I really do have a deep love for people in my heart. But the trouble is, if the people in my life do not know how much I love them, if I do not show that in my actions then it really doesn’t mean a whole lot.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
"...knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." 1 Corinthians 8:1
In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
I’ve always referred to these verses in a joking kind of way, I even called Proverbs 10:19, my “life verse” for a while. But, in truth, I kind of hate them. God has given me an inquisitive sort of mind and I have no doubt there is a reason for that, but this is all useless, completely pointless if I do not truly, (madly) deeply love people or build them up.

I like knowledge, I like talking; these are the things I’m good at, my gifts. I can't just turn them off. Meekness and humility are as foreign to me as eating grass or flying; it seems that I’d have to be reborn as a cow or a bird to possess them.

But the secret part of my heart longs for these things because I know they are the better part. I know there is no higher calling than to lift other people up. Maybe the reason I know this is I can see how knowledge can be used to hurt and to tear down.
Have you noticed how often God uses the wrong person for the job?
He used a stuttering murderer to save the Jews from Pharaoh and a Pharisee to preach freedom from the law, why not lift up the down-trodden with an insecure, self-centered girl with an addiction to being right? It fits.
As I’m down here in my little puddle of self-disappointment may I ask you, what do you want your legacy to be? Do you feel like you are living it today? What obstacles are in your way?
I’d love to pray for you as you pray for me. Let’s learn to love together, yes?


  1. One of the biggest things that has gotten in the way of being an example of Christ for me is how I treat those I love who stumble. I don't talk about it much on my blog as to not offend my family, but I went through a really low point for several years, and did some very stupid things. YOu would have hated me ;) j/k...

    Anyways, since I've done almost every bad thing in the book, and it almost completely destroyed my life, I get so mad when people I love who "know better" start to fall in those same sin traps. I have all the mercy in the world for people I don't know, but I have a hard time holding my friends accountable in a loving way, and it is hard to find that balance for me of loving them but not supporting the life style, yah know?

    If it weren't for the people who showed me mercy, I probably would still be in the pit, I just need to learn how to express my love in a merciful way instead of a "you should know better" way.

  2. Thanks Becca,
    I can totally understand that. It's interesting how we can so easily forget what it felt like to "be there?" Or even if we don't forget, we can deny the grace that we need.

    Sometimes experience can be a great tool to build compassion for people, but other times having "been there" just gives us a license to not show grace to someone else. We can think "I survived, why can't you?" Or "I shouldn't have done that and neither should you."

    Even if we have experienced something, it doesn't mean our experience is the same as someone else's experience. It also doesn't necessarily make it any easier for someone in the middle of sin.

    But as long as I've received grace, as long as I keep needing it, I keep extending it. I have the theory down pretty well, I just struggle with the execution...

    Praying for you!