It is true, knowledge has to do with insight, understanding and sound judgment. But not only that. The bible opens up a further dimension for us.
I would claim to know my wife quite well after 37 years of marriage. This is not only true because I know much about her, but because I intentionally opened up to her whole personality. “What are her weaknesses and strengths? What are her fears and dreams? What are her doubts and goals?” I am privileged to get to know all this because of our intimate relationship. And my wife knows me as well. In a moment of silence she once said to me: “You breathe differently. Please tell me what is on your heart”. Even from my breathing she had recognized that something was moving my heart.
The bible encourages us to get to know God more and more. For example, Paul said that our knowledge of God should increase in order to mature and grow towards the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). He did not mean that we should accumulate more dogmatic facts, but should get to know his divine being at a deeper level. Facts are not equal to intimate knowledge. By mere accumulation of information I could learn everything about the structure of a piano, but this would not say anything about my relationship with music and by no means about my ability to play the piano.
Those who get to know God’s being at a deeper level will also get to know themselves better. Knowing God intimately causes us to know ourselves more intimately. In his light we see our shadow. And in his grace we find our forgiveness. The word of God is like a mirror for us (James 1:23). Whoever looks into it will not only find insight about God, but also about himself.
Knowledge and Love
The apostle Paul links knowledge to love (1 John 4:7-8) and in the Old Testament the most intimate moment between husband and wife is described as “knowing” (e.g. Genesis 4:1). Generally speaking, especially in the Old Testament “knowing” is not considered to be a solely intellectual process. The most prominent organ for knowing is the heart, by which man does not only sense and feel, but also ponder, recognize and know (e.g. Deuteronomy 8:5 or Proverbs 18:15). Therefore, whoever intends to grow in spiritual knowledge should cultivate an intimate relationship with God and fall in love with his being more and more. This relationship is formed between heart and heart and between spirit and spirit.
Concerning the gift of the word of knowledge we finally need to ask: “How can I beneficially apply the knowledge given by the spirit?” All gifts of the spirit are given for edification (1 Corinthians 14:12). This is always the goal. Let us assume I pray for a person suffering from strong back pain. I could, of course, beat the person round the head with all the insights I gained in prayer: “You should exercise more. You should eat less. You should not sit in front of the computer for so many hours“. But if knowledge and insight are combined with love I will also find the right way to pass on what I received. Even with the best steak I can either feed a dog or beat it to death. Therefore knowledge and love must be united. One day knowledge will vanish away, but love will remain forever (1 Corinthians 13:8).