“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him”
1 Corinthians 8:1b-3
My friend Mike, single and in his early thirties, attended a conference where he saw a young lady that impressed him. He was initially attracted by her outward appearance, but as he observed her throughout the weekend, he also was drawn by her personality, gifting, and the way she carried herself. Knowing some friends who were mutual acquaintances, his research skills kicked into gear, and he asked questions that would help him know whether he was to meet her and get to know her better. Through their encouragement, Mike agreed to be introduced to her. Once each returned to their homes in different cities, they continued to communicate and, almost a year later, he has moved to her city and church so that he might know her better. He hopes to discover if God would have them get married. As I listened to his story, it was obvious to me that the more he gets to know her the more he loves her.
Can you relate?
I can relate to Mike because I experienced the same thing with my wife, and what I experienced with Alma, I have also experienced with Jesus Christ. To know Him is to love Him. The Apostle Paul wrote that there is a relationship between being known by God, knowing and loving God, and loving others. One naturally follows the other. What Paul wrote may be taken two ways, and both are true. To be known by Him is to love Him. It is also possible to take Paul to mean “If anyone loves God, He is known by him.”
To know Him is to love Him
This happens with everyone who is a child of God! In fact, according to the verses above, it’s how one knows he or she is a child of God. This happens because when God “savingly” loves someone, the Father draws them to Jesus through the beauty of His love and the sacrifice of His own life on the cross. All of us who know Jesus remember when the eyes of our hearts first saw Him. We were drawn to get to know Him. Perhaps we asked some of our friends if they knew Him. Eventually, we moved closer to Him as we read the Bible, attended a church, and befriended others who knew Him. Then it happened.
He came to us! Made His presence known to us, poured out His love in our hearts, and we were smitten. I’ll never forget when He came to me, and I knew that He knew me and loved me. If it’s happened to you, then I know you can’t forget either. Jesus didn’t just look at me, He looked through me and saw everything in me. I knew I was known by Him, and there was nothing good in me to impress Him or demonstrate that I was worthy of His love. That exposure, shame, and accompanying fear was dispelled in a moment with one look by my Savior from the cross. At that moment, His love poured over me as I realized I was forgiven and loved. I am one of those who has been loved—that is, I am one of the beloved—and I know by experience that God is love.
There’s a difference between knowing God is love as a fact and knowing by experience
To know anything merely as a fact produces arrogance. It’s natural for pride to rise up when we think we know something others don’t know. Paul warned the Corinthians, “knowledge makes arrogant.” It’s true even if the fact one thinks he knows is that God is love. But to know God by experience is to know love by experience and to know that you are known by God. When this happens, you know without a shadow of a doubt that there’s no place for pride about being loved by God or knowing Him. It’s just the opposite. It’s humbling. What makes God’s love so overwhelming and life-changing is that you know that you are undeserving of such forgiveness, love, and revelation. What kind of love is this that loves a condemned sinner?
After warning the Corinthians about the relationship between knowledge and pride, Paul continued, “but love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:2). When we know God and know that we are known by Him, we can’t help but respond to that love with love. It is worth noting that Paul wasn’t talking about the world’s kind of love, which selfishly uses God and others. No, this love is God’s love. It gives freely in the best interest of the one being loved. God’s love edifies. It edifies the recipient and then continues to bless everyone around him.
We love because He first loved us
I know a woman who testifies that she loves her husband because he first loved her. She says she freely gives her love to her husband because she feels so loved by him. She recognizes that when she is loved, it is the love of Jesus in him, and it has a powerful effect on her. Being loved well by her husband also produces a security in her that makes her emotionally whole and frees her to be able to love not only him, but also others. Her testimony is that of the bride of Christ, isn’t it? This woman’s husband, by God’s grace, is loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
This emphasizes the seed thought I want to plant in the soil of your heart: To know Him is to love Him. If you really know God, you’ll know that He is love and that He loves you unconditionally and eternally. He loves you like He loves His own son, Jesus Christ (John 17:26). That love powerfully impacts us, and we can’t help but respond. We love God because we are known by God, and know His love by experience.
How well do you know God and His love? Is it merely a factual knowledge, or do you experience His love daily? I encourage you to seek to know God intimately through His Word, prayer, and meditation. Spend time with Him, looking into His face, and waiting to hear from Him. I am convinced you’ll find that the better you know Him, the more you will love Him, because to know Him is to love Him.