“. . . always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).
THERE IS A CERTAIN SATISFACTION IN COMING TO KNOW THINGS WE’VE NEVER UNDERSTOOD BEFORE. Whether it’s pride (the perverse pleasure that comes from knowing things not widely known by others) or it’s simply the natural pleasure we feel when we make progress, it feels good to learn new things. We need to be careful, however. If our intent is to seek God, we must seek more than the simple pleasure of knowledge by itself.
We live in an age that seems uncertain about the whole idea of truth. The very word “truth” is often placed in quotation marks, as if it were a quaint notion no longer taken seriously, except by old-fashioned folk and fundamentalists. In such an age, it is interesting that we still prize “learning” as much as we do. One can’t help but remember Paul’s description of certain ones who were “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” When we seek to learn, we must seek more than the acquirement of various perspectives. It is actual truth that we seek, and if our minds are open (as they certainly should be), it is only that we may close them again on something solid.
But it is even more than truth that we should seek. We should seek to obey whatever truth we acquire. A real relationship with God is an active affair that involves not merely knowing but doing. On one occasion, Jesus brought His listeners up short with this statement: “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). True seekers are not content until their knowledge has moved them to godly action. What is learned in the library must be lived in the neighborhood.
One of the best antidotes to pride is the sobering fact that knowledge involves both greater responsibility and greater accountability. The more we know, the more God will expect of us. “For everyone to whom much is given,” Jesus said, “from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Even if we’ve sought to unlock every subtle mystery in the world, that will not exempt us from what God has always required: a faith that acts.
“You can be sure of this: when the Day of Judgment comes, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how well we have spoken, but how well we have lived” (Thomas à Kempis).