"Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up"
(1 Corinthians 8:1).
Paul, in this section of his letter to the church at Corinth, was addressing the problem of legalism and spiritual pride. There are those that love to showcase what they know and how much they know to the point of becoming critical and judgmental. As Christians, we are called to be advocates of the truth, while at the same time, living in honor of Him who is the Truth. We were never called to arrogance, but to love.
Later on in this transformation letter, Paul gives greater definition to what love is. In one of the most often recited passages on love, Paul writes that love is "patient, kind, not rude, not self-seeking, does not boast..." Unfortunately, the way most people argue has become synonymous with arrogance. It becomes arguing for argument sake, seeking to prove right and prove wrong, and about winning a debate, rather than living in a way that reflects the love that we claim to be changed by. Our adoration for Jesus will always be a better argument than our arrogance, intended or perceived.
"Knowledge" puffs up. It makes us feel bigger than we were ever designed or intended to be. Love builds up. It is focused on others more than ourselves. We are called to teach, not trample. We are meant to disciple, not destroy. We are to reflect the love of Jesus, not the legalism of arrogance. Yes, we are to speak the "truth in love." However, let's not twist that scripture to become the blank check that allows us to say what we want to. Let us remember what and Who love is.
Allow this to be a reminder in your life. It is not about you, but about building up others in their faith, and in their relationship with others around them. If you build up yourself, then you're not lifting up Jesus. Exalt Him, and He will lift you up. If others are not persuaded by the truth you are presenting, don't result to futile and volatile arguments. Live out the truth. Let the love of Jesus be more persuasive than your ability for words. He is truth. He is love. Love is more persuasive than arrogance.