Knowledge Bloats (1/6)

This post is the 1st in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here. Guest directory info is available here.

“But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

1 Cor 8:1-3

I’m a freelance writer. I’ve written about topics like car parts and techniques for surgery. However, I’m no mechanic and would heartily refuse to assist if anyone handed me a scalpel.

You, likewise, know some lingo and plenty of trivia about certain topics. Maybe you’ve memorized sports statistics. Perhaps a loved one has told you about the day to day tasks they complete at work. Chances are, you aren’t qualified to be a famous athlete or even a sports commentator. Your loved one’s boss probably wouldn’t be pleased if you showed up instead one day.


Much of the knowledge we possess doesn’t lead us to anything actionable. Still, many of us are obsessed with learning all we can know.

Set up as an idol, we worship knowledge because of what we believe it gives us: control. Power. Security. Influence. Prestige. Ability. Option.

The trouble is knowledge, all by itself, puffs up. It’s hot air. Knowledge can look and sound impressive but have no substance. Even when tall and intimidating, it may be flimsy when it’s leaned on.

Often all knowledge for the sake of knowledge gives us is a headache. <Tweet this>

Want-to-know-it-alls like myself must be wary of making too much of knowledge alone. When we let knowledge puff us up, all we’re doing is trying to misuse it for our own glory. We want to be so smart that God and all His creation praise us and bend to our wills.

but-knowledge-puffs-up-while-love-builds-up

Grand as it might appear and authoritative as it may sound, knowledge:

  • Isn’t unchanging
  • Isn’t complete
  • Isn’t all-powerful
  • Isn’t fulfilling on its own
  • Isn’t everything

God, on the other hand, is all of these things and so much more.

God is self-existent and sufficient, He is also omniscient. He knows everything.

Knowledge, as we know it, has limits, boundaries, and frustrations. Yet our finite knowledge is something God uses for His good purposes. (Hint: God’s good purposes don’t involve us taking control or bloating our egos.)

God gives knowledge, withholds it, reveals it, explains it, multiplies it, and wields it for His glory.

According to God’s Word, knowledge paired with grace, love, peace, wisdom, goodness, and the like can glorify Him. Fitted in the frame of righteousness and powered by the zeal of the Spirit, knowledge can propel the sharing of the Gospel.

Knowledge revealing God’s glory is certainly more substantial, lasting, and righteous than knowledge puffing up our egos.

Does knowledge need to have less of a bloating effect and more of a godly effect in your life too?

Join me for the next 5 weeks to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I would love to have you guest post on First and Second. Now accepting submissions for a guest directory on Idolizing Knowledge! More info on guest posting here.

0 Replies to “Knowledge Bloats (1/6)

  1. This one got me this week as I began searching for a few new books to read. It snowballed into a longer-than-desired Amazon hunt and I now feel like I need a week long detox! This is a really great series, excited to read more!

    1. Ooh, my Amazon list is probably similar, Meg! But I get the same way and end up super overwhelmed with everything I think I “have to” know. Thanking the Lord I know Him instead of “everything!!” Praying this series is fruitful for you- writing it has been so convicting and freeing for me! Would love to have in the guest post directory!

      1. Yes I hear ya! I feel this season I’ve been convicted more than I ever have. It’s like ouch but I’m glad he teaches us ya know? I’d love to and thanks for the invite. I’m actually looking for a couple more people to guest post on mine to go along with the writing from rest series. If you want to or have the time let me know! It won’t be until April that it is posted. God bless friend!

  2. Being in university and working on my Masters, I have been thinking about this lately. I can know a lot of things, yet it doesn’t do me any good if I don’t know how to put it into action and if it doesn’t come with love. I’m looking forward to reading more on this!

    1. You must witness this everyday, Ronja! Would love your insights in a post for the guest directory : ) I pray this series blesses you, too! I look forward to your comments when you get a chance because I’m sure you’ll have plenty given you current student status!

      1. Bethany, I would love to join in this and write a post for the guest directory. Thank you so much for the invitation – and even more so for the challenge! I will be praying for you and for this series. 🙂

  3. Wow, Bethany, great post! Thank you for sharing the realization that knowledge, the drive to know more, can indeed become an idol. This is going to be a great series. I Love this: “Fitted in the frame of righteousness and powered by the zeal of the Spirit, knowledge can propel the sharing of the Gospel.” Great words on going after knowledge for God’s glory.

  4. Smiling as I read this because the truth is that here in this house full of teenage boys . . . nobody really cares how much I know. (Unless they need help with their algebra or their physics.)
    But without knowing it, they do benefit from the Truth that I gulp like the living water it is, because without it, I’d be a pretty selfish mum. I’m learning, as my hair grows grayer, that it is not necessary for me to share my “insights” on every topic and on every occasion — with the hope that if I speak more sparingly, my words will be better received at the times when I do share my “knowledge.”
    This is such a great topic for a series, Bethany!

    1. So much wisdom packed in to those statements, Michele. We need the truth or we do grow selfish. We need wisdom on when to speak or we end up fools, even if we’re speaking a lot of good! Thanks for the insight : )

  5. We stumbled over here coming from a different web page
    and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I
    see so now i am following you. Look forward to looking at your web page for a second time.

  6. Ugh, guilty again! The more I realize how much I love information, the more I need to question its roots. Thanks for making me pause to ponder here. “Set up as an idol, we worship knowledge because of what we believe it gives us: control.”

  7. Yes, I tend to be one who researches a topic . . . I look for every piece of information about it that I can possibly find. I do it to glean information to make good decisions. And yes, I have been guilty of thinking I know more than I actually do.

    I love the reminder that God is transcendent but knowledge is not. Great post, Bethany!

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! Yes– I do that too, and something it is to make good decisions! Other times it’s idolatry. Love that the all-knowing Lord is also patient and gracious with us!

  8. Interesting, thought-provoking post, Bethany. It’s true. We can get easily wrapped up in knowledge and take God right out of the picture. I’ve been guilty. Oh to have wisdom wrapped in love….

  9. Oh, Bethany, I am so very well acquainted with this idol! Perhaps ironically, my experience in seminary revealed the limits of knowledge. After years of biblical and theological studies, there was still so much I did not – could not – know. I learned, then, to appreciate the mystery of God. I look forward to reading more from this series!

    1. Me too, Melissa!! I often use the old “paint” program to write “pray first!” over any image I set as my desktop background. I’ll take every reminder I can get to stay out of this kind of trouble : )

  10. Bethany,

    I am a word-nerd. I LOVE etymology and syntax and seeing how they work together to form a complete thought. I can’t say I am a grammar/punctuation elitist, though I love to ask those who are they synonym for a linking verb ( it’s copula if you want to know). And I absolutely love to learn. So being around others who are also knowledge seekers always lights a fire in my student loving heart.
    But there is something about the loving to learn that makes me think of all I do now really know and it leaves me at a disadvantage to have a conversation freely when I feel like I am not sure. Rather than feeling bloated with knowledge, I think I feel more than anything I am not an expert on anything and sometimes withhold sharing because I don’t want to look silly.

    Teaching Philosophy to 9th graders opened my eyes to many of the well-used phrases that we repeat often with clarity and a humble reminder to submit first and foremost to Godly Wisdom rather than the world’s wisdom. Instead of Francis Bacon’s “Knowledge is power” mantra, we should always remember that Wisdom, Understanding, and true Knowledge only come with the awareness and reverence of the ultimate source of each one. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.. Proverbys 9:10.

    Awesome series!
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    1. Dawn,

      For all my love of knowledge and learning I’ve never been great at grammar, so I hope my posts don’t drive you too crazy!! : X Haha. But I also cherish being with others who love to learn.

      Your point about being restrained by what we don’t know is so convicting to me. I’m guilty of staying silent for fear of looking silly often- I think speaking honestly about what I don’t know would be better.

      WOW- Philosophy to 9th graders must be an experience!! Very humbling and helpful. Thanking the Lord that by His grace we can know the source personally!

      Thanks for sharing the verse and your thoughts on the start of the series- if you have any posts related to this topic, I’d love to include one (https://firstandsecondblog.wordpress.com/guest-posting-open/)

  11. Hi!
    Knowledge certainly needs to have a more godly impact in my life. Without God, knowledge is just noise. I get enough noise and need to guard myself better as to what “goes in.”
    Great post!! Very thought provoking!

Leave a Reply