Knowing Stuff Isn’t Enough
We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him. Colossians 1:9-10
I went to a Christian treatment program where I met other Christians struggling with addiction, all of whom came from different religious traditions and backgrounds. As Christians will often do, I soon found myself in an argument with another resident over some finer point of theological doctrine. Looking back, it’s amusing that we both were defending our own knowledge and understanding of the Bible, while thinking the other was clearly wrong. The irony is that neither of us had been living according to the beliefs that we claimed were so important. We said we believed on thing – clinging to our doctrine – while we lived very differently. We defended our knowledge of God, but we lived for ourselves. Our addictive, destructive behaviors didn’t stop us from arguing about our knowledge though. In retrospect, it was absurd.
In today’s passage, Paul told the Colossians that he prayed for them to have knowledge and spiritual wisdom so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. Paul wanted them to know the right things so that they could live accordingly. It wasn’t enough to believe a bunch of stuff. They needed to live according to that belief.
I must know right to do right, but correct knowledge alone isn’t the same as living right. Right knowledge is just a steppingstone to right doing, but the one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. I grew up knowing all about God, while following my appetite to destruction. I always knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew right, but I simply wanted wrong more.
I can know everything about how a car functions without ever driving one. Knowledge is simply comprehending facts about the car. Wisdom means knowing how the car works and then applying that knowledge in learning how to drive well. With the car, wisdom – or driving right – doesn’t automatically follow right knowledge though.
It’s the same in our Christian lives. We can know and believe all the right stuff, while still following our self-destructive nature, living however we want. There are demons in hell with impeccable theology. Simply knowing the right stuff isn’t enough. If we claim to follow Christ, we must put our knowledge into action, living out what we claim to believe. Otherwise, we’re simply fooling ourselves, claiming to be something we clearly are not.