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Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering what we learn

Zeal without knowledge may just lead to you acting a little too quickly.  Act too quickly and you may just charge ahead when it would have been wiser to stay behind.  Zeal is the energy we put into the pursuit of anything or anyone. Too much can sometimes get in the way because it messes with timing.  Too little can get be just as difficult to manage because it makes it difficult to be in the right place at the right time with the right resources in hand.  Whenever we move into areas where we do not have personal experience (first-hand knowledge), we might do so with great enthusiasm, but what usually happens?  We don't do very well the first time we try something, do we? Knowledge is designed to be shared, but until it becomes personal, it is of very little value to the one exposed to it.  Those folks who build Legos for a living and make all those instruction books included in the box of building blocks have first-hand experience.  Until I follow the specific diagrams and examples given, I don't have either.  I can only envision what my pile of blocks will look like, but if I plunge ahead without following those instructions to the letter, the instructions were of little value to me.  Sure, they were included in full color and nicely organized for my understanding - my impatience to get from a pile of blocks to a finished airplane will not produce an airplane even remotely resembling what the designer had in mind.  I need to apply the knowledge I am provided.

Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good; impatience will get you into trouble.  Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord.  Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper.  (Proverbs 18:2-3, 8 GNT)

Unfortunately for most of us, we move into territory all the time where we have very little personal knowledge - creating many an opportunity for us to be exposed to things we'd never imagined possible in the journey.  Moving without knowledge might be considered faith to some, but even faith is based on some truth.  We have an element of knowledge we hang our hats on and then take the first steps forward.  Be aware - any steps taken without applying even the minimal knowledge we have been given may just lead to a whole lot more "exposure" than we'd like.  God wants us to have passion in our pursuit of right living, but he also wants us to exercise wisdom in that pursuit.

To wrestle with an unfamiliar enemy without any knowledge of that enemy would spell disaster for anyone attempting to do so.  People ruin their lives, not so much because they intend to, but because they come up against all kinds of unfamiliar enemies and have no idea how to deal with them.  We might call this foolishness in action, but in reality, we have all been there. What is unfortunate is when we blame God for our failure in these battles instead of seeing the folly in our having plunged ahead without any knowledge for the battle ahead.  Truth is, we are often given at least one or more warnings before heading into these battles - we just don't heed them.  If we'd learn to listen to the warning(s), we might just avoid the missteps.

God has placed a premium on some responses from us.  One of those responses is listening.  To those who listen, he speaks into their lives and helps them to grasp knowledge.  Those who are too intent on just handling things without the instructions, he speaks, but they don't listen.  Another response God values is that of integrity - being truthful about what we don't know and then seeking to gain that knowledge.  I often play Legos with the boys, but there are times when the instructions just don't even make sense to me!  It always amazes me when one of them will look quickly at the illustration, correct the blocks I put in the wrong order and then help me pick our the next one I need to put in place.  If I just plunged ahead, saying I understood the instructions even though I clearly did not, it would not exhibit integrity, would it?  In fact, the example I would set for the boys would be one of "faking it".  God doesn't place a premium on "faking it" - he places a premium on integrity.

As we have been studying the Proverbs, it appears there is evidence of a person actually valuing themselves by the actions and attitudes they exhibit. To acquire wisdom is to love oneself - value yourself enough to actually admit you don't know it all and then to quiet yourself long enough to actually "get" some knowledge which you might apply to the situation at hand.  People who cherish understanding will prosper - those who overlook it or think it is not important will know much unrest in their lives.  Most of the time we think scripture doesn't support the "love of self", but in truth, when we love ourselves enough to learn at the feet of Jesus, this type of "self love" is encouraged.  It shows we value the creation enough to sit at the feet of the Creator long enough for him to show us how this whole thing is supposed to work.

To acquire wisdom, one is determining to get it as their own - not content with second-hand knowledge, but desirous of getting it for yourself.  When we approach knowledge this way, God is delighted to give us exactly what we seek.  He gives us new or additional character traits and abilities.  We then hold these new truths as something we will cherish - hold dear, keep or cultivate with care and affection.  When we cherish knowledge (learning) - we are taking what we are given and then allowing it to get deep into our brains, enough so that it affects our emotions and bolsters our spirit.

Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships - some call this having insight.  The important thing we need to see is that this is something grown, not given.  It needs to be taken in, find deep root, and then it becomes useful to us.  Knowledge is superficial - wisdom has deep roots. Understanding is the ability to grasp even the hidden meaning which comes as a result of what we have come to learn over time.  I like the last verse we are studying today - we do ourselves a favor when we learn all we can.  Learning all we can depends upon all these things - right frame of mind, determined commitment of heart, and openness to act as we are instructed. Remembering what we learn is sometimes the biggest challenge!  Just sayin!