Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a way with words. Impressing upon his seminary students the need not merely to cultivate knowledge, but more importantly to nurture personal love for Jesus Christ, Spurgeon wrote, “The devil is a greater scholar than you.”
And he is. Our adversary is smarter than any pastor. He is a quicker study than any theologian. He quotes the Scripture better than any Navigator. But he lacks love.
Love matters. 1 Corinthians 13 teaches that even if a man grasps “all mysteries and all knowledge,” but has not love, he is “nothing.” Peter teaches that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
Don’t get me wrong. Ministerial education is vital. Spurgeon wasn’t denying that. He was, in fact, educating men for ministry! But he understood that at the root of our instructions must stand love—for Christ, for men and women, and for the truth of the Gospel.
It’s easy to love theology. Theology doesn’t talk back. I’ve never argued with a book. People are more complex.
But no book is created in the image of God. No theology primer possesses eternal value. Jesus did not die for a systematic theology. He died for you and me. And according to John 15:13, that’s the very definition of love.
Jesus is the greatest scholar of all, but it isn’t His scholarship that defines Him. It is His act of self-giving love.