You could see him from 100 yards or more. How could you miss him, his body swollen to its limit due to a retention of excessive fluids. So it is not surprising that Dr. Luke alone records this brief narrative (Luke 14:7-11). The condition of “dropsy,” with a man’s body all puffed up, provided our Lord and Luke a graphic illustration of pride and arrogance in the religious leaders of their day–and, dare we say, of the religious leaders of our own day as well. Perhaps that’s why the Apostle Paul, Dr. Luke’s traveling companion and fellow-theologian, also made use of the same illustration, applying it to all of us, not just to church leaders: “Knowledge puffs up [makes arrogant], but love builds up [edifies]” (1 Cor. 8:1, Gr.).
So there we have it: Are we puffed up or built up? Or better: Are we puffed up (arrogant) or are we building up (edifying) others? Unapplied “knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies” (1 Cor. 8:1, NASB). While in Israel (or in most places), it’s easy to find a ton of knowledge expounded by recognized scholars. But, along with it, a ton of arrogance as well: from the Muslim world, from the Jewish world, and surprisingly, from the Christian world also, even the Evangelical world! A few days ago I had a brief discussion with a young Ph.D. student at a world recognized university. Boy was he smart! And he made sure I knew it. There is no one as smart as a young (!) Ph.D. student. As my former mentor, Dr. Howard Hendricks, used to say, “It takes four years to get a Th.M. degree from Dallas Seminary, and then four more years to get over it, so that God can then use you!” Take it from a former young scholar, how true it was (is)! I’m so glad I’m no longer young; I almost said “no longer arrogant.” But if I said that, I would be admitting that I’m arrogant, right? But all of you who have had the privilege of making my acquainting, know, of course, that I’m not an arrogant man, right?
So how can we deal with the spiritual symptoms that culminate in the illness of arrogance? In other words, how do we take our growing knowledge repository and keep it from spilling over into the disease of pride? The answer is simple, both in theory and practice: “Knowledge makes arrogant [puffs up], but love edifies [builds up]” (1 Cor. 8:1). First, aim on loving God. How? Through our own commitment and obedience to Him and His Word (1 Cor. 8:2-3; cf. Matt. 22:34-40). And second, focus on loving others, especially “those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). How? Through our own sacrificial Christlike service for others (1 Cor. 8:4-13; cf. Matt. 20:25-28).
And, yes the Lord Yeshua did heal the puffed up man, even on the Sabbath. In other words, the Great Physician depuffed him. Don’t you think He can still do the same for us today?