1 Corinthians 12:1 Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
For once, I really prefer the NIV to the Japanese! Where the NIV (like most English translations that come to mind) says, “I don’t want you to be ignorant,” the Japanese says, “I really want you to know the following things.” There is a Japanese term for ignorance, but the translators chose not to use it. Ignorance isn’t sinful, but it can certainly be dangerous, and indeed, many Christians are ignorant when it comes to spiritual gifts. I could literally teach for many hours on the subject, and I’m tempted every time it comes up! This chapter is naturally of prime importance in such teaching, along with Romans 12 and Ephesians 4, but the point is, we do well to press in to know as much as possible of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, not to puff us up but so that we will be more useful to Him in establishing His kingdom. That brings up the point that we aren’t to pursue knowledge for its own sake, but so that it can be used to do the will of God. There are denominations that require academic tests for ordination. I think that is a grave mistake. Information is no substitute for a living relationship with our living Lord! That said, information is to an extent absolutely essential. As Paul said, how can people believe in someone of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:14) In that same chapter he speaks of the Jews having zeal but not knowledge. (Romans 10:2) We are to seek more knowledge of God, and to share that knowledge with others, but we must not let that knowledge just be information on a shelf, but rather apply it actively in service to our Lord. (James 1:22)
Because my motivational gifting is Teacher, I have always been a “knowledge hound,” seeking it and drinking it in. I used to read the Encyclopedia Britannica for fun when I was in the 4th grade! At the same time, I have learned the hard way how easy it is to deceive myself with “head knowledge,” just like James said. I do not want to be ignorant and I don’t want others to be ignorant, but I can’t force anyone to accept knowledge, any more than I can acquire all knowledge myself. I’ve got to be at peace with what Paul expressed in the chapter right after this: “Where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) At the same time, I can take comfort in what he said right after that: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) I must not let knowledge substitute for obedience. As James pointed out, even demons have knowledge of God, but it does them no good. (James 2:19)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for making us capable of learning, of gaining knowledge. Help me keep my focus on knowing You, more than on knowing anything else, and help me communicate that knowledge to as many as possible, so that I and they may walk in that knowledge in obedience, for our salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!