Useless Knowledge

It’s one of the finest lines any follower of Jesus can walk: the line between knowing more about God so you worship Him and knowing more about God so you become proud. It’s so easy to confuse the two in the beginning, but the outcomes couldn’t be more different.

On one hand, we can learn about God and be brought to worship Him more, to love His Word, to obey His commands and to love others.

On the other hand, we can learn about God and become more critical of others, more inflated in our self-estimation, and unable to love the very people God Himself loves.

I’ve crossed this line many times that’s why I know it well. At one moment, I’m thrilled to be learning something new, amazed at God and how He does things. The next moment I’m rolling my eyes at what is obviously an error in someone else’s prayer or preaching. One

How could similar things produce such different outcomes?

I don’t know, but maybe this is why the Bible and Christian tradition have always warned against useless knowledge.

We know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up but love builds up. If anyone imagines he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. I Corinthians 8:1–3

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. Thomas A Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

Don’t stock up on useless knowledge. Instead, let our pursuit of knowledge only be part of a greater pursuit of a deeper with God and others.

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1 comment
  • Thanks for sharing your insight! We definitely need to remember to check the motives behind our pursuit of knowledge. Is it to know God for who He is, or is it to display our intelligence to the world? Great reminder!

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