Knowledge Isn’t Fulfilling On It’s Own (5/6)

 

This post is the 5th in a 6-part series on Idolizing Knowledge. Read the rest of the posts here.

Once upon a time I earned a B- in a tough course on Biblical Literature. It was the lowest final grade I’d ever earned. I had studied- hard. I felt all the rush of competing with classmates who invited me to their study sessions even though they all knew what the heck a “prophetic” book was and I was still trying to pronounce “day-oot-or-no-me” properly.

A couple of years later, I was well on my way to adding a Bible minor to my degree.

There was a problem, though.

All my knowledge of the Bible, my spiritual leadership positions, and my wisdom on pleasing everybody in the name of Jesus weren’t fulfilling. I was still empty.

Knowledge, even knowledge about God, wasn’t able to save me. Smarts on Scripture didn’t secure my soul. Understanding of sin couldn’t get me out of it.

I needed a different kind of knowing. I needed relating, trusting, relying, nearness. I needed the person of Christ. And I needed Him to save me.

When I entrusted all my bloated brain and shriveled heart to the One who knows it all, I found the only thing that’s really fulfilling: a relationship with the everlasting, almighty, perfect God.


For those of us who idolize knowledge, it’s hard to accept that information will never fulfill us on its own.

In the first post of this series, I proposed that knowing all about surgery didn’t qualify me to perform it. Knowing a surgeon wouldn’t qualify me either.

Knowledge isn’t meant to stay still. Knowledge needs to be in action to be fruitful.

This was the grievous error James so succinctly called out:

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” –James 1:22

Saving knowledge is knowledge of Christ responded to.

Sanctifying knowledge is knowledge of God learned from and acted on.

Growing knowledge is knowledge of the Spirit expanding through personal experience with the Spirit Himself.

Loving knowledge is knowledge of the love of God transforming the way we live and speak the truth.

The list goes on.

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Idolatry makes us greedy. Idolizing knowledge turns us into information-hoarders.

When we think we know a lot and are learning tons, we’re unlikely to test information against the Scriptures. We’re unlikely to control our tongues, blazing with fun facts as they are. What we are likely to do is “establish a righteousness” of our own, given that we need someplace to showcase all the knowledge we’ve collected. Hoarding our treasure troves of facts, what we gain we’ll only lose because knowledge serves no purpose on a shelf and out of use.

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Knowledge is just one in a long list of qualities we’re to increase in.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control…For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” –2 Peter 1:5-8 (emphasis mine)

Even with knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be ineffective and unproductive. Knowledge alone doesn’t make us helpful to the Gospel. Information alone doesn’t fulfill what’s needed to make us fruitful in Christ.

The next verse goes on to warn that without these qualities- which are many more than just knowledge- we get nearsighted. So nearsighted we’re blinded.

Knowledge is often pictured as light- and just as with light, staring too intently at brilliance makes everything go dark.

Knowledge was never meant to fulfill us apart from Christ. When we try to let it fill us anyway- we end up bloated with emptiness.

We know the One who does fill us and fulfill us. We get to know Him personally. We are blessed to find all fullness in Him, loading us with and lighting up for us to see what we need to love, and serve, and glorify Him.

Let knowledge of Him alone lead to worship of Him alone! <Click to Tweet>


Are you getting to know God better? Does that help you worry less about feeling fulfilled?

Join me  (<–click here) to delve deeper into shattering the idol of knowledge to take hold of knowledge as God intends it to be

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WordoftheWeek: Fulfill

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Lord, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the work of your hands.”

(Psalm 138:8)

A buzzword in the secular world and the Christian circle, “fulfill” is often used with the connotation of giving meaning. We enter certain tasks and ministries to feel fulfilled. We seek jobs that are fulfilling. In our eyes, tasks and relationships that feel fulfilling are the ones that matter.

For many of us, feelings of fulfillment are a measure of meaningfulness.

That’s not what Scripture says. Meaning and fulfillment are in fact very different. Meaning is about worth, fulfilling is about purpose.

The difference matters. We let our view be skewed when our motivational words and inspirational sentiments usher truth off of the stage and into the front row. Truth shouldn’t approve of what we believe, it should determine it.

  1. Fulfill Means “Will Perfect”

Bear with me as we break this down, it’s really cool!

A Hebrew verb, “fulfill” in Psalm 138:8 is also translated “will perfect.” The Lord will be at work on us, bringing us to perfection- to the best that He has for us. To be fulfilled is to be perfected by Christ.

The verse reads in more directly translated Hebrew “The Lord will perfect what concerns me.”

“Concerns me” is a preposition. It isn’t a verb or a noun like worry. Nor is it an adjective describing a feeling. This prepositional term is also translated “through.”

What?

“The Lord will perfect me through…Lord, do not abandon the work of your hands.

This fulfilling of our purpose in the Lord is carried out through the work of His hands. It is through His working that we are perfected.

  1. Fulfill Means “To Accomplish”

God’s work in our lives is productive. So much of what we accomplish in our daily lives seems unfulfilling when it comes to meaningfulness or value. Laundry, menial tasks like driving from place to place, even routine conversations fail to infuse our lives with a sense of meaning. But they aren’t designed to give meaning in the first place. (Though meaning can be brought to them in prayer and in doing all unto the Lord.)

In the meantime, God accomplishes much in us even in the menial. The Spirit, working through us, can even accomplish much with such unfulfilling things as our failures, weaknesses, and disappointments. Because in those things, His will can still be accomplished. The great achievement- His glory- can still be had.

  1. Fulfill Means “To Bring to An End”

In her post earlier this week, Lois wrote about a dream ending- her book, out of print. She described decrease and disappearing from being known and from the sort of achievement-place that many of us work to be in. But Lois found that meaningfulness did not cease when one “purposed project” came to an end.

That’s what fulfill is about. The bringing to an end, to completion, of what the Lord has purposed. Full-fill. Filled full. And intended to be!

When the Lord fulfills something in us, He brings to capacity a purpose He has had from the beginning.

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We’re made by God for a purpose. He doesn’t start out with a slab of wood and take chunks out here and there until finally a shape emerges, something worthwhile. In putting His hands on us and getting to work, He sets out with a purpose and He won’t stop until it is finished. Even when we fail, He finds worth in us because of Christ, and He continues until His purpose is accomplished.

Our lives have meaning. What we do has meaning- eternally! Not because of our effort or our purposes, but because He is. He is right now in the process of fulfilling all He has set out to do, working all for good and for His glory.

As we look for fulfillment in our lives, let’s look no further than Christ.

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He died and three days later rose again. This was not to fulfill a dream of taking over the world. His triumph over death was not to fulfill a goal of giving long philosophical treatises on the meaning of life. He rose again just to give us eternal life itself, along with hope and purpose.

Truly these verses agree:

We must decrease, that He might increase. He doesn’t not abandon the work of His hands- decreased as He whittles away and His glory fills the space. Rather, He fulfills. He fills until full the purposes He has for us, that He might increase all the more. That- His glory- is where meaning is found.

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