I was just reading an article about sheep, and I learned about something called sheep bloat. Sometimes a farmer goes out one morning, and there’s this dead sheep laying on its back, feet up in the air. Its belly is swollen tight. And sheep bloat has slain another one.
What causes sheep bloat? It happens when a sheep eats too much lush, delectable, protein-rich pasture. The sheep can’t handle the richness, and the gases fill its belly until—pop. It’s dead.
What does that have to do with us? God calls us His sheep, and He is our Good Shepherd. And, much like sheep, we have the potential to bloat. Paul tells us that “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Too much rich knowledge without love can actually hinder our spiritual life. If we haven’t been built up and strengthened by love, we can’t sustain all that richness, so we too could bloat up with pride and noxious fumes until we’re knocked flat—like the sheep that fall victim to sheep bloat.
But dwelling in Jesus’s love builds us up. When we rest in the gospel—the truth of Jesus’s love for us embodied in His death and resurrection—His love equips us to take in all kinds of good knowledge without bloating.
How can we tell if we’re being puffed up or built up? Here’s a good test: Does new information make us excited to show other people how smart we are, or does it give us a burning desire to help others enjoy it too? Do we follow knowledge-rich podcasts to make ourselves more useful to others, or to make others think we’re bigger than they are? We won’t be helpful to others if we’re paralyzed by our own bloatedness (Ephesians 4:29).
Nobody likes knowledge gas. But because of Jesus, we can be built up by God’s love, extend that love to those around us, and then acquire some vital knowledge that will bless all of us—not just impress people with our hot air. • Rebekah Dorris
• Jesus calls us to love Him and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). How can pursuing knowledge help us love God and each other better?
• What can happen when we pursue knowledge without love?
But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 1 Corinthians 8:1b (NIV)