Some want to know it all when it comes to the Bible. Having a right and balanced desire to learn and grow in scriptural knowledge is good. It can help us grow in our relationship with our Creator. But this same desire becomes lopsided when the emphasis is on trying to understand subjects where God has purposefully withheld key details, or where the Bible is simply silent. As we seek to learn more about God and His way of life, we need to learn how to seek and use knowledge rightly. How can we do this?
The most important point to remember is to hold fast to what we can know with certainty. We should stick to the trunk of the tree. Those in the Living Church of God have been taught this concept for decades by faithful servants of God. It is a powerful reminder to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV).
Scripture tells us to remember those who have taught us the truth, and we are also instructed to remember and apply what they have taught us. We capture their wisdom for our own. Paul tells the young evangelist Timothy, and also each of us, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14). Remembering our teachers helps us remain humble. We did not come into the right knowledge by our own understanding. We had to be taught.
Those individuals who seem bent on knowing everything in the scriptures should recognize that, while learning and studying Scripture is a vital part of our knowing the true God, and of knowing what He expects from us so we can maintain a healthy and positive relationship with Him, it is also vitally important to maintain balance in our thinking about the acquisition of knowledge. Some simply acquire knowledge for its own sake, without regard for how it will be used.
The fact is, even if we had all the answers, we would not remember all of them anyway. God has made our human minds to require reminders and—thankfully—also to have the ability to forget some things. Our human minds are limited, and it is simply impossible to have all knowledge and also to retain and recall it perfectly. Yes, acquiring knowledge is good, as long as it is for a good purpose, with the right motivation and proper balance.
Paul talked about knowledge in 1 Corinthians 13, the “love” chapter, saying that even understanding all mysteries and knowledge was meaningless—or nothing—without love (1 Corinthians 13:2). If we lack the right motivation to acquire and use knowledge in a loving and edifying manner, we will fall short. While some subjects in the Bible make for interesting table topics, they may not be the kinds of things we should invest heavy thought or concern toward.
Instead, seeking to understand how we can each individually become more loving, gentle, and caring individuals, more conformed to the image of God in character—that trumps the accumulation of knowledge every time!
Thomas Jefferson pondered accurately, “He who knows best knows how little he knows.” That humble approach to knowledge can truly go a long way in guiding our study of scripture. We can then be sure not only that we know things, and that what we know is right, but also that we understand how to use rightly what we know—to build up and edify one another and to obey God more fully in our daily lives. That is the purpose of gaining knowledge—always to share, to give, to love, to apply God’s knowledge rightly through daily living and obedience.