“Every prudent man dealeth with knowledge” Proverbs 13:16
As an adult learner, it isn’t surprising that I find the pursuit of knowledge important. When you consider that I spent the past 15 years working in public education, it becomes abundantly clear that attaining knowledge is imperative.
Guess what? The Bible agrees that we should be lifetime learners. “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (Pr. 12:1).
Paul wrote to Timothy that “all scripture” was “profitable … for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Thus, it isn’t the banal acquisition of useless facts which God endorses. He expects us to pursue knowledge that will lead to righteousness.
Righteousness is the “quality of acting in accord with divine or moral law, resulting in freedom from guilt or sin” (Merriam-Webster). It seems clear that if I don’t know the law, it will be difficult to act in accordance with it.
“A man shall be commended according to his wisdom” Solomon writes in Proverbs 12:8. What we know matters. Knowledge has value – not for the sake of knowing facts but in order to apply that information to our lives.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that information is similar to technology in that it is neither evil nor good. Of course, when that information leads us to defraud another person or pursue sinful habits, it is no longer profitable. In the same way a computer can be used for good (writing this blog, for instance) or evil (looking at pornography), information claims that same ambiguity.
Who has met a “know-it-all”? This person has something to add on every topic and will generally silence others by the sheer volume of information they spew forth. Most of us see this person and try to avoid them or groan inwardly if they see us first.
God’s Word has something to say about that use of knowledge, too. “A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness” (Pr. 12:23). Just because we know something, we don’t have to “set others straight.”
The most annoying aspect of educated people is their tendency to talk above other people. As if “since I have a doctorate, I’m too intelligent to hold a conversation with you mere four-year degree holders.” That would be the foolishness proclaimed in this verse.
Remember, in God’s mind, the reason people should pursue knowledge connects to their application of that which they attain. Jesus, omniscient, never looked at the mere humans around him with contempt. In fact, he went out of his way to meet people on their level of understanding because he wanted them to understand his message.
The statement “knowledge is power” needs a qualifier to line up with scripture. Knowledge is the power to do right.
Next week: Hard Work Pays Off