A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot. – Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Perhaps Albert Einstein was right. Some say that ignorance is bliss. The less you know, the less you are responsible for. And I suppose there is some truth to this philosophy. But stupidity an absolution does not make. Try telling a law enforcement officer that you did not know you were supposed to stop at that intersection. He or she might be sympathetic but most often their sympathy will be followed by this reminder, “ignorance of the law is no excuse“.
But Albert Einstein also suggests that possessing mass amounts of knowledge is also dangerous. Now this begs the question “is it possible to be too smart?“ Can someone be “too clever for their own good?“ And what does that mean?
Glad you asked. Too much knowledge can lead to overconfidence. Cockiness can harm you or at least work against you. Worse is when you believe that you know something you really don’t. That will get you in trouble. I suppose we have all met someone that we thought was just a bit “too big for his/her britches“. Don’t you fall prey to thinking more highly of yourself than you should. It has its own way of catching up with you.
John Bertram Phillips or, J. B. Phillips was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman. He is most noted for his version of The New Testament in Modern English. Dr. Phillips sheds keen insight on a passage in the New Testament book of Romans:
3-8 “As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don‘t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all. (Romans 12:3)
It seems so many could use a dose of the good doctor J.B. Phillips medicine these days. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is to develop a correct understanding of who God is, what he does for us and how he has uniquely gifted us. Having the right kind of knowledge is essential.
Knowledge is power. – Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
There is no disputing the fact that knowledge is power. But what happens when we have too much power? The historian and moralist John Lord Acton (1834-1902), expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
I am glad Lord Acton didn‘t say great men are always bad. He did say ALMOST always. And if world history is any indication, he was right. Knowledge and its accompanying power have produced some very maniacal people. Only God can handle an absolute. Unrestricted power when held by one whom also possesses complete truth, justice, love, etc. (i.e. God) will work out just fine.
In the first official English edition of the Bible (the King James Version), Proverbs 24:5 is translated, “A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increases strength“. In other words a wise man, because he is a man of knowledge, is a powerful man.
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. – Socrates (469 – 399 BC) –
Ponder that. Actually, the point here is simple; we don’t know every answer to every question and there is so much that we still don‘t understand. Only God is all knowing. He is absolute truth and His word is the truth revealed for mankind. When we humbly accept these facts, we are ready to learn and, we are on our way to true wisdom.
10 “The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom”. – (Psalm 110:10)
And the book of Job gives this insight:
20 “From where then does Wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 28 …to man He said, behold, the reverential and worshipful fear of the Lord that is Wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”. (Job 28:20, 28 Amplified Bible)
Reverence means respect. It also means worship and devotion. In the bible, the word fear is often used to express reverence and devotion to God. True wisdom begins when we are in awe of the God who made us and then, because we hold Him in the highest regard, we obey the things he teaches us.
No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding. – Plato (427 – 347 BC) –
So, having the right knowledge is essential because knowledge is power. Not our power; the power of God within us. Once you know that you really don‘t know as much as you think you know and you turn to God in reverence – that is the beginning of wisdom. But you can‘t progress from wisdom to true knowledge without understanding.
7 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding”. (Proverbs 4:7 NKJ)
You might be thinking, “Understanding of what?“ How about the purposes of life or, of our relationship to God who is our Father? Not to mention all of the other divinely inspired principles found in the Bible. Get it? There is so much to understand.
I once read that the first diamond found in South Africa was picked up off the ground by a farm boy who took it home for his sisters to play with. He had no idea what it was. To him it was just another stone.
I wonder how many people are just like that little boy. Holding a treasure in their hands (God‘s Word) yet not knowing its value due to a lack of understanding.
12 “But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? 13 Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. (Job 28:12-13).
As believers we need to pursue understanding. We need to look at the Scriptures with an eye on understanding them and especially understanding how they apply to our lives. We must rise above a perfunctory practice of religion so that we can live a life of obedience to His perfect will. Remember, “In all your getting, get understanding“
Let‘s pray, Lord, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me to understand wherein I have erred“ (Job 6:24) and Lord, “Give me understanding, and I shall live“ (Psalm 119:144).
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656