of sweat and solitude: lesson two

Lesson Two: Knowledge Mandates Action

Having already spent a summer in Montana, I was more familiar with the work schedule and came better prepared this year: I packed fewer books. One book I badly wanted to read was "Knowing God" by J.I. Packer. Honestly, I read it nearly every day during every free moment, and I still only read 100 pages - this was no vacation!

I had plans to read this book to fill my head with knowledge, somehow making it easier to "keep in step with the Spirit." Listen closely to the quick, sharp lessons I learned when I first opened this book:
We need to ask ourselves: what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it? For the fact that we have to face is this: that if we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject-matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens...[1 Cor. 8:1]...To be preoccupied with theological knowledge as an end in itself, to approach Bible study with no higher motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception...[The psalmist] wanted to understand God's truth in order that his heart might respond to it and his life be conformed to it. [pp. 17-18]
Knowledge mandates action. Shoot. I wanted to fill myself with knowledge, and change nothing about the way I lived! I wanted to just get smarter! But it's fitting to learn lesson two immediately after lesson one. Consider: the Spirit is leading, and I know it. And if I know it, then I am mandated to act on it, by keeping in step with Him!

James succinctly writes, "Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves," [1:22] and concludes, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, to him it is sin." [4:17]

This lesson rocked me. No longer did I attempt to fill myself in order to satisfy my self-righteous, self-deceptive need to know about God. I genuinely wanted to act upon my meager, but hungry knowledge of God. And that changed everything...

Looking back, I am surprised and amazed that God was teaching me these lessons in this order...because He wasn't done with me yet.


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