7/2/2011 – “Knowing” What To Do Is Not Enough – Pastor Shane Idleman

Part I in a series on Wisdom

Last week I said that we gauge good judgment by considering the outcome of our choices. Jesus said that “wisdom is shown to be right by what results from it” (Matt. 11:19). Do your choices produce the results you want? If not, consider who’s leading you—God’s Word or the culture. Does our present society promote good judgment and produce good outcomes? Is society building godly leaders and developing admirable character? Obviously not…here are some of the examples that I gave:

  • Daily Bible reading and prayer is called fanatical while working twelve hours a day is called success.
  • We build our career and neglect our marriage.
  • Corporate executives are praised and family men frowned upon.
  • We protest war but say little about abortion.
  • We can act out murder, adultery and arson while playing a video game and call it “healthy” entertainment.
  • We search the heavens for answers and turn from the One who created them.
  • We’d rather be seen leaving a bar than leaving a church.
  • We raise our hands and praise our favorite team, yet appear handcuffed in church.

The state of the family today is disheartening because we have largely rejected God’s wisdom.

Many of my teen years were spent working for our family’s construction company. One morning while I was digging a trench with a backhoe, I broke an existing water line. Within minutes, the trench filled with water. I rushed to shut off the valve, but the handle appeared broken. I struggled to close it with a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and other wrenching tools, but nothing worked.

Hesitantly, I called my dad to tell him that I couldn’t stop hundreds of gallons of water from pouring into the street. When he arrived, clearly frustrated, he reached into his truck and grabbed a long pole with a special socket attached. He placed the socket on the seemingly “broken valve” and turned it off. The water stopped immediately. He reminded me, not so patiently, of his words just weeks prior. He had instructed me to keep the special wrench with me at all times for emergencies like this.

I learned two important lessons. First, I received proper instruction, but I failed to listen to my father’s advice. Had I used the right tool, the damage would have been minimal. In the same way, biblical principles and godly wisdom are available to us, but it’s our choice whether we use them or not.

I thought I had other options, the pliers, screwdriver, and other tools seemed as if they would work; I felt I could manage without the water-meter wrench, but my failure to heed my father’s advice cost us the price of the job.

In the same way, we often think of “our way” as best and God’s principles as optional when, in fact, the opposite is true: God’s directives are essential and absolute.

Second, I realized that I could not fix the problem alone and called for my father’s help. Likewise, we all encounter problems, and need to ask for help even when problems are self-created. Calling on our Heavenly Father should be the first resort, not the last. Had I called my father first—or listened initially—the damage would have been considerably less. In the same way, heed the right advice and look to the right source when building a foundation of knowledge in your life.

Difficult and challenging decisions become less complicated when they are based on the absolute truth of Scripture. God’s Word provides the energy to deal with life’s challenges and the strength to press through regardless of circumstances.

Many often say that they just need to get their lives together before they commit to God. If this is you, don’t wait until that time—you will wait a lifetime. Start now, regardless of your current situation. Repent and ask for God’s forgiveness and direction: “Seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).

Although the entire Bible provides wisdom, this series of articles will contain timeless tips from the book of Proverbs. The Proverbs give prudence to the simple, and to the young man knowledge and discretion (1:4). God promises that reading and applying His Word to our lives will give us wisdom and knowledge; however, reading alone doesn’t guarantee success, application does. This is the mistake that many make…they have knowledge, but not wisdom. They know what to do, they just don’t do it: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Knowledge without application leads to deception.

More on this topic next week…