I want to confess a fear of mine. As I grow and mature in my knowledge of God and His Word, I tend to compare my knowledge with the most intelligent theologians, both historical and contemporary. You know the ones I am talking about. These men and women have dedicated their entire lives to the study of Scripture. I thank God for them and their gifts of teaching. But I begin to feel very small and insignificant when I compare my knowledge to theirs.
When I shared this with a mentor whom I consider an excellent theologian, he surprised me with his response. With no hesitation he confessed that he wrestles with the same thing. I thought, “How could someone of his knowledge of God and His Word have the slightest fear about lacking knowledge?” To put it into perspective, this man has a Masters in Law and a Doctorate in Theology. But even these credentials do not reveal his knowledge and wisdom.
If this can be something he struggles with at times, maybe it is more common than I thought. Wrestling with this, 2 Peter 3:16 came to my mind. In that passage, Peter says there are some things Paul writes that are hard to understand. In other words, Paul is particularly hard to understand sometimes. This is not an issue to bring discouragement. Rather, it is an issue that draws one nearer to Christ, knowing He will give us all the knowledge and wisdom we ask for. But in that, there are three things to remember:
You are comparing yourself to spiritual giants (Hebrews 11:1-40).
No matter what initials follow your name, knowledge absent of love will puff up (1 Corinthians 8:1).
Knowledge without actions is hypocrisy (James 4:17).
The last point is an encouragement. If our words and actions do not match, how will our children and grandchildren know which to follow? Even children can tell it is hypocrisy. If you have kids, have they not already asked you why you get to stay up while they have to go to bed? We all have been asked that question by three-year-olds in our lives. Obviously, situations like these are different, but they illustrate how much children observe our actions first and words second. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:11, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
My dad was the best example of this. Sure, he taught the Bible to me weekly. He led our family in daily and weekly prayers. He also answered any and every question I had about anything, even if he had to come back with the answer later. He also told me every day as he dropped me off at school that "Jesus loves you and so do I." But his theology was more than words. He was not a learned theologian and had not earned a master’s or doctorate degree. He was a "follow me as I follow Christ" type of father. His life and his integrity spoke stronger than his words ever could. The way he treated and loved my mom taught me all the theological doctrine I needed to know about God’s desire for marriage. Let us be believers who can say to our kids and grandkids, "Follow me as I follow Christ." Not just with our knowledge and words, but with our actions.