A couple days ago, I wrote a post that claimed to talk about endless possibilities. Today, I actually can’t decide what to write about. Do I write about Latin irregular verbs and what they say about language and humanity in general? Or do I talk about predestination and what it means for me as a Christian? Should I mention the woman I called today at work who was really dissatisfied with her experience at the company? Or is there something even more interesting I want to spend 30 minutes thinking and writing about?
Technically, I’m sure there’s always something more interesting and since the purpose of this blog is less to entertain others and more to work through my own thoughts (though I do hope that through my working things out a random passerby may find themselves interested, if only for a moment) I’ll write about something I heard this morning on my way to work. Typing that last sentence made me feel old.
I must confess, I’m not nearly as disciplined as I’d hoped I would be this summer. In fact, the only thing I have done consistently is post on this blog. That’s because writing these posts always somehow forces me to encounter God in some way but it also doesn’t feel like a chore. I actually really look forward to these times where I can sit alone with my thoughts and let God lead me to new truths as I write each sentence. But even so, the time I spend posting does not and should not replace the time I spend reading the Bible or praying. Unfortunately it does. So as I drove to work, I decided to take out the Bible app on my phone and put it on audio mode. Why hadn’t I thought of that earlier!?
I’ve been reading through Proverbs for the past month or so (see: lack of discipline) so I started there. I turned on Proverbs 29 (that’s almost the end of the book! I’m not too bad…no, I am) and listened as I drove. For me, the drive from work is between 15 and 20 minutes and it takes the guy about 3.5 minutes to read through a chapter. Basically, I was still driving once Proverbs was done. Since I sometimes try to be a safe driver, I didn’t want to play with my phone so I just let it sit, thinking it would either turn off or move on the the next book. It chose the second option (no real surprise)!
As the guy’s voice read through the first chapter of Ecclesiastes I remembered what an awesome book of the Bible that is. And then, I was immediately perplexed when I heard the last verse: For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (ESV)
WHAT?! What am I supposed to do with that?!?!?! My whole life has been the pursuit of knowledge in some form or another and I admittedly spend a lot of my time trying to increase my own knowledge. And this isn’t simply knowledge about the world, or people, but also knowledge about God and the Bible. A short semi-digression: I understand that it is infinitely more important to know God than to know about God. But I also think it is important to understand context and to figure out why I believe what I believe. This is what I mean when I talk about knowing about God.
Hearing this verse hasn’t actually perplexed me in such a devastating way, but it has made me think (which may not be a good thing ;)). Solomon is considered the writer of Ecclesiastes and he’s also considered one of the wisest men to ever live. Yet he is the one speaking against wisdom and knowledge. And I think he has a point. It seems like unmotivated knowledge, i.e. knowledge for its own sake, can become harmful. There is no limit to its capacity and there is no way in which it can help others. But on the other hand, one of the most beautiful parts of life is learning, just for the sake of learning. But even as I write this, I’m forced to note the difference between learning and knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, as Paul says. And Paul is a pretty smart guy.
Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. That’s me sometimes. And that’s the knowledge that can lead to sorrow.
I confess, for me to really finish this post I’d have to write and think for a few more hours. I can’t say the question of knowledge and wisdom has really been worked out in my mind. I’ll probably revisit it later…
In other news, I called my sister a name today (not my finest hour) and she responded by telling me I look like a baby. That was her insult of choice. I laughed :).