June 6, 2010
“Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so‑called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness. May God’s grace be with you all” (1 Timothy 6:20‑21 NLT).
Paul warned his friend Timothy against the “contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge,” (NKJV) and we would do well to heed a similar warning. Paul probably had in mind something like the esoteric knowledge of the Gnostics of his day, and so his warning may seem to have little direct application to us. Nevertheless, his caution contains an interesting point that we would do well to consider in a general sort of way. There is a principle here that is pertinent to anyone who seeks knowledge, but especially to those of us who seek the knowledge of God: not everything is knowledge that wears the name. Similar appearances notwithstanding, there is a huge difference between reality and illusion, and whatever it is that we seek, we need to be sure that we find the real thing and not some substitute.
Along the path that leads to God there are numerous pitfalls. Having committed ourselves to learning all that we can of God, we discover what is perhaps a new and exciting delight in the life of the mind.
New understandings and insights seem to open up to us daily. It is all quite exhilarating. But the very pleasure of our pursuit should make us all the more careful not to misplace our affection. To repeat: not everything is knowledge that wears the name. In the marketplace of ideas, counterfeits abound, many of which look and feel very much like the real thing. And for every step of progress we make toward something valuable, there will always be an easier step we could take toward something less valuable. In the spiritual life, we have a very practical need for constant vigilance. Our focus needs to be rechecked frequently. In effect, God is saying to us, “It is I whom you seek. Accept no substitutes!”
“We pray, O Lord, for deliverance from all that weakens faith in you: from pompous solemnity; from mistaking earnestness for trust in you; from seeking easy answers to large questions; from being overawed by the self‑confident; from dependence upon mood and feelings; from despondency and the loss of self‑respect; from timidity and hesitation in making decisions. In Christ, we pray. Amen” (Willard Sperry).