The value of understanding

Some say a man’s life is a reflection of his choices. While there may be some nuance, our decisions often shape our life outcomes and play a significant role in our circumstances. As an adult, I’m now acutely aware that my choices have consequences, but that wasn’t something I understood as a child. So, as a parent, it’s one of the foundational lessons I teach my children. I meet people who aren’t happy with their current situation, and most aren’t lazy. Yet, their toil seems to bare little fruit. Unsurprisingly, many are frustrated, and some are even angry with God for His perceived unfairness. If our life outcomes reflect our choices and our decisions are fuelled by what we know, what gap in knowledge is responsible for your present situation?

I appreciate that some people may be content with every aspect of their lives. This blog isn’t for them. However, I know several people, myself included, are dissatisfied with their current circumstances and see a disparity between God’s promises and our lived experience. I’m convinced that the problem isn’t God or His word. So, these days, I look inwards and ask: “Did I miss something? Is there something I don’t understand?” Some profess to know what they’re doing, yet their lived experiences over time suggest otherwise. For Christians, such outcomes can give God a bad name. One of my greatest desires is to be an object lesson for my claims about God. Jesus greatly emphasised fruits – tangible results others can observe in our lives which glorify God [John 15:16]. How can unbelievers glorify God if they don’t see results in our lives which magnify Him [Matthew 5:13-16]?

Recently, I watched my son try to show his friend how to solve a Rubik’s cube. He’d watched a video which outlined eight steps to solving a cube and had understood and memorised the first five. As he got to the sixth step, uncertainty sipped in. He lost fluency and confidence and resorted to trial and error. Unsurprisingly, he failed to solve the cube, and his friend left unimpressed. That episode was a reminder that partial knowledge typically produces the same outcome as no knowledge. The dynamics of decision-making usually begin with gathering information or data. When information or data is compiled coherently, there’s an opportunity to learn something – gain knowledge. However, for knowledge to become profitable, we must understand the information we possess. When knowledge is rightly applied with understanding, we make wise decisions which produce predictable results. My son got to the knowledge stage but didn’t fully understand the video he watched, and his results showed he was missing something.

Many people are living my son’s parable in several areas of life. That can be particularly frustrating for Christians because God’s promises are desirable and unambiguous. Many of us know what the Bible says, but do we understand it well enough to apply it correctly with a confident assurance of the outcome [Hebrews 11:1]? Or do we possess incomplete knowledge, often brutally exposed to our challenges, sending us into a trial-and-error tailspin? In his Galatian epistle, Paul writes about two types of Christians; a child and a son. These are spiritual designations, not gender roles. Though already a member of God’s household, a child is enslaved to elemental things. As such, he’s unable to experience all he’s rightfully entitled to in the Kingdom [Galatians 4:1-3]. On the other hand, a son manifestly operates in his inheritance because He has power of attorney [John 1:12, John 16:23, Luke 10:19, Acts 1:8]. As such, a son partakes in His Father’s divine nature [2 Peter 1:4].

The destiny of every believer is to become a son, functioning as a king and priest in their sphere of influence to the glory of the Father [Galatians 4:4-7, 1 Peter 2:9]. Nevertheless, the transformation required for that transition doesn’t happen without our involvement [Romans 12:1-2]. We must intentionally leverage the gifts and offices provided in the Church to bring us to maturity, where we become like Jesus in character and experience [Ephesians 4:11-13]. When that happens, we correctly appropriate our inheritance [2 Peter 1:3]. Elsewhere, the Bible points out that discernment or understanding is one of the hallmarks of a mature believer [Hebrews 5:12-14]. God desires His sons to steward creation on His behalf [Genesis 1:26]. However, just as a responsible father wouldn’t hand over his estate to a child, we can’t step into all God has for us if we remain children. It would be irresponsible of God to give us what we can’t handle [1 Corinthians 10:13].

I suspect this blog is challenging to read as it was to write. Some areas of my life eminently portray my lack of understanding. They’re glaring when I’m under pressure as I realise I didn’t quite understand the Scriptures I read pertaining to that challenge. So, my confidence in my choices and actions fades, and the results invariably show. Conversely, there are childish things I’ve demonstrably left behind [1 Corinthians 13:11]. Both outcomes compel the pursuit of knowledge, understanding and wisdom because I desperately want to experience all God intends for me before I die [Proverbs 15:14, Proverbs 18:15]. If it’s true that God’s word makes us wise and even saves us from eternal damnation [2 Timothy 3:15], then it’s foolish to ignore it [Hosea 4:6b]. 

My charge is simple: assess your lived experiences honestly. Where do your results highlight you’re missing something? Acknowledge your ignorance, humbly take Solomon’s advice and pursue understanding [Proverbs 4:7]. Then, trust the Holy Spirit to bring forth revelation from your pursuit [Job 32:8, Isaiah 30:21]. Follow His lead, and you’ll step into your inheritance experientially with the wisdom to solve life’s challenges for yourself and others to the glory of God [1 Timothy 4:15].

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