Focusing On What Really Matters Part 2

In part 1 of this little series we looked at what matters most to God. It’s not what we know, what we do or how we view a specific doctrine (all those things are worthy of attention).  What God cares about is our love for Him and our love for others.

In Paul’s letter to Philemon he commends his son in the faith by telling him, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.” (v4-5)

Before we go any further I want to qualify this article and confirm that I am referring to true believers and not those who have no relationship with God.  Dealing with those who don’t know the Lord is for another article.

Knowledge vs love

There often seems to be a tug-o-war that happens between those who promote knowledge as being primary to those who promote love.  I can hear some saying, “If a person doesn’t know the truth how can they follow God completely?”

While it is true we should be searching the scriptures I wonder if the emphasis is placed on the wrong criteria. If knowledge of truth was the main goal then in essence only a very few people would actually be pleasing the Lord. But let’s step back for a moment and see what the Lord Jesus and the apostles say about this topic.

Many things still to say

The Lord Jesus takes the disciples to an upper room to give them His last few words before going to the cross. We can’t underestimate the importance of these words as they will leave an indelible mark on the minds of the apostles long after the Lord Jesus had gone back to Heaven.

He tells them that He can’t share all the details of knowledge with them but in time they would learn through the work of the Holy Spirit, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:12-13

So with only a few words to share, what did the Lord Jesus want to give as the words they were to focus on and remember?  It was simply this, love, obedience and abiding in Him. Whatever the Holy Spirit would reveal to them they were to follow it.  They were to stay close to Him and out of their lives would come fruit that pleased the Father.

Love others

The main commandment He left them was to love one another. (John 15:12) Of all the things He could have said there was only one thing that mattered above all others – love.

An incomplete knowledge

Let’s consider Apollos. It says in Acts 18:25 that, “He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.”  Here was a man who by all means was a great servant of the Lord. He was respected and being used mightily.

Yet he didn’t know the whole truth. That’s why Priscilla and Aquila had to take him aside and teach him the truth about baptism.  It would be foolish for any of us to think that Apollos was not pleasing the Lord, or drawing close in his walk with God before he learned more about the truth.

Why does all this matter?

So we ask the question, why does it matter? Let me give just a few thoughts here before we close.

  1. The lack of love as the primary command to obey has caused countless divisions in the church.
  2. When we focus on knowledge above love we become isolated as we exclude any who don’t agree with our strain of doctrine or practice.
  3. Emphasizing knowledge ignores the fact that many believers are at a different stage in their spiritual journey (Apollos for example).
  4. Loving others no matter their understanding of truth is exactly the way the Lord Jesus lived His life.
  5. Knowledge puffs up ego and ego is a killer of church fellowship.


I believe that it’s time in our assemblies (in general) to evaluate if we are guilty of the pride of knowledge and start obeying the command to love others. We need to get back to the emphasis Jesus placed on love. It’s not about ignoring truth or neglecting what the Bible says. That should have a high priority in our church fellowships. But it does mean that we follow the example of Christ and place love over truth.  In future articles we will look at this from a much more practical position in the church. For now I will leave you with these words from 2 Timothy 2:24-26

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.



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    I agree with what you are saying, .. but the two need to be equally important. The new believer (but not from a Christian background) needs to be corrected in love and taught in love, just a loving atmosphere will not lead to spiritual growth. It is sad to have a baby that never develops physically, or learns to talk etc.


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      Absolutely. It is sad indeed. It’s the responsibility of the mature to disciple the young. My point is that a brand new believer can please the Lord just as much as a mature believer if they have a deep love for the Lord and the saints.


  2. Avatar

    I’m confused at this comment. I’m just thinking – neither Jesus nor Paul suggested that the two are equally important. In the passage that Crawford discusses, Paul contrasts knowledge and love in that knowledge puffs up, while love edifies Furthermore, he again contrasts knowledge and love in 1 Corinthians 11: he says that even if he had all knowledge to understand all mysteries but didn’t have love, he wouldn’t be anything. He also characterizes knowledge later in the chapter as something that will pass away, but faith, hope, and love as those things that remain. He nowhere suggests that knowledge and love are “equal” in some sense in this chapter, though he has plenty of opportunity to do so.

    Jesus also had plenty of opportunity to equate love and knowledge, but he declines to do so in his teaching: when teaching his disciples what would set them apart in the world, he said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love,” not by their knowledge of spiritual truth and love together. When asked what the greatest command was, Jesus said it was to love God and others, with no mention of knowledge being just as important.

    The NT, without a doubt, teaches that knowledge IS important – there is no question about that. It is good to understand, or try to understand, truth, doctrine, etc for a variety of reasons. However, to say that knowledge and love are equally as important isn’t an idea reflected in the New Testament. I would also suggest that when we equate the two, we naturally put some folks at a spiritual disadvantage; there are people who love Jesus that are hindered mentally from understanding complex doctrine; there are people who love Jesus that don’t have access to the plethora of learning resources we have access to in the modern western world, etc. Still, they can love – and this is all the law and prophets summed up, with nothing needing to be added.


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