“All perfection has some imperfection joined to it in this life, and all our power of sight is not without some darkness. A lowly knowledge of self is a surer way to God than the deep searching of man’s learning. Not that learning is to be blamed, nor the taking account of anything that is good; but a good conscience and a holy life is better than all. And because many seek knowledge rather than good living, therefore they go astray, and bear little or no fruit.”- The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.
This quote from Thomas a Kempis reminds me of a phrase we use at my church; “We are so far educated above our level of obedience.” The connection that I see here is in the area of humility, inner evaluation and focus. If we educate ourselves in order to impress others or lord it over them, then we have lost the focus of that education. Knowledge without wisdom and application is simply facts isolated from their intent. Knowledge of the things of God without submitting to them can easily lead to a focus change from growing spiritually to growing intellectually. Spiritual growth trumps intellectual growth every time.
We avoid this problem by exercising our ‘knowledge’ in the arena of our spiritual life and witness. Knowledge in this way leads to transformation which is one of the purposes of obtaining Godly wisdom. Simply accumulating knowledge without providing for it to be exercised or lived out in our daily spiritual life and witness is missing the point.
Our churches must be places where practical application of God’s Word is stressed. We have to help ourselves and others grapple with how the Word speaks to our daily decisions and actions in the areas of our relationship with God, raising our families, working in our jobs, interpersonal relationships, ethics, politics and the list goes on. Our Christianity should speak to every aspect of our daily lives and it should inform us on the correct actions to take. As a Kempis said, “a good conscience and a holy life is better than all.” Conscience has to deal with the intersection of our lived out lives and holding to God’s Word and a holy life is brought about by submission to God’s commands.
“All perfection has some imperfection joined to it in this life, and all our power of sight is not without some darkness.” We are human and humans often allow poor intent and poor motives to interfere with correct understanding and practice. This is why there is no room for boasting. On this journey we walk beside another not ahead of them. It is true that others may be ahead of us in some areas but behind in others. We all have our blindspots. We need each other as Hebrews 10:4 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Some may be strong in intellectual knowledge, but weak in compassion. Some may be strong in evangelism, but weak in humility. Some may be strong in witness, but weak in patience. Some may be strong in the preaching of the Word, but weak in grace and mercy. This is why we need the Body, but most of all we need the transformational work of the Spirit.