What Does it Mean to Know the Truth?

The Western world worships the intellect. We prize rational thought. We believe that we can come to know and understand anything through logic and observation. This is directly the opposite of what Biblical writers meant when they spoke of “knowing” something. To know something in the Hebrew culture means to become that thing – to do that thing. The idea that you could read someone else’s teachings and repeat them to show that you understood the teachings would have been preposterous to them.

Can you learn from a book?

Can you learn from a book?

In Jesus’ time, when a boy wanted to study under a rabbi, he would go and plead to study under him. The rabbi would then test the boy to see if he was an acceptable candidate. If he was, he would enter a long period of training. The purpose of this training was not to simply show you could repeat back to the rabbi what he taught you to prove you had learned and mentally understood it. It was to learn to be just like the rabbi. Only through this experiential living, could he really know what the rabbi knew and understand what the rabbi was teaching.

Jesus had His disciples drop everything and live every moment of their lives with Him for three years in order to train them. Even after these three years with the greatest teacher in the history of mankind, their training was woefully incomplete. They had barely changed. When Jesus’ time of trial and crucifixion came, all but one ran away like scared cats.

Yet, after they received the Holy Spirit, He transformed them into men who changed the course of history. As they sought God and experienced life, He gave them wisdom. The Holy Spirit reminded them of teachings Jesus had shared which before had just been words. They became men who knew God and their calling in His Kingdom.

What changed? Yes, they had seen Jesus alive after death, and I’m sure this was a huge encouragement. But more than this, they were changed by the gradual workings of the Holy Spirit, teaching and growing them; something that hadn’t happened through three years of hearing Jesus teach. They came to understand the words Jesus had previously spoken though obedient living, experience, and the revelation of knowledge.

Real wisdom and understanding are realized from doing. Not from thinking about how something works.

Personally, God gave me knowledge (wisdom & understanding) after I was obedient in doing. Some of these things I would believe were good before I did them. But in others, I didn’t really see the value in changing the way I lived. Regardless, in all cases, as I submitted myself in obedience to this new way of living, I gained a real understanding that each of these things added up to a better way of life. God understands how He made us. He gives us these guidelines because He knows what will make us most happy and prosperous.

James explained it this way:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

What I’m suggesting is not the easiest or most immediately gratifying path. But if we want to grow closer to God, we need to be open to finding those areas of our life in which we are not being obedient to His word and sacrifice our desires or fears of the moment and have faith that He has a better way for us. He will make it clear what areas those are for you when you desire more of Him. In doing this, we come to know God in a real way and find more peace, joy and even freedom than we knew was possible before.

The same is true in the financial arena. There are a preponderance of talking heads out there espousing a variety of financial truths. They feel wise because they’ve spent more time thinking about these things than others and therefore are quite confident to tell you what you should be doing financially. I was one of them. The problem is that most of the prevalent financial theory out there doesn’t work in real life. Through doing, if you pay attention, you can begin to understand something more than what is possible through rote, book knowledge. After years of the traditional advice falling short of expectation, we began to apply other methods.

Other articles in this newsletter:

A column putting today’s bruised economy in spiritual perspective

A detialed review of what it means to steward your money to better facilitate your walk

An interview with a financial expert highlighting a cash flow oriented product with tremendous tax benefits