Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Lack of Understanding

I'm told that I have a quick mind - a quick wit, able to come up with replies on the spot. That can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse.

On more than one occasion I've made a snap judgment about someone or some group that resulted in me having "egg on my face"...looking and sounding stupid because my judgment was wrong. And the reason it was wrong? I hadn't taken the time to at least make an attempt to understand.

Some things, frankly, are beyond my comprehension. For example, when someone in the government starts talking billions and trillions of dollars, I really can't grasp that. I'm a tens and twenties kind of guy. Or when another church or organization takes on a ministry or outreach with goals of reaching millions or hundreds of thousands of people, I have a hard time processing that. I'm in a small church in a county of 30,000 people.

I suppose when others step out of my box it becomes easy for me to quickly dismiss them as misguided, illogical or heretical. And I can say that partly because I've been judged in those terms by others who don't understand me or the purposes of the ministry I lead. I should be the last to condemn what I don't understand.

According to the Bible Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. The reason for his wisdom was that when he was asked by God what he wanted most as king of a great nation Solomon's request was not for riches or power or fame. Instead he asked for "understanding". Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. - 1 Kings 3:9 (NLT)

Solomon knew he would face questions and decisions that would otherwise overwhelm him. He didn't want to misjudge others. Many of the Proverbs he later penned tell about the priority we should have in our lives for gaining understanding and wisdom.

Even for those of us who might not be the sharpest knives in the drawer, God's Word gives us wisdom and understanding beyond our abilities. Your word is a doorway that lets in light, and it helps gullible people understand. - Psalm 139:130 (GWT)

The opposite of having understanding and wisdom, of course, is ignorance and foolishness. I want to be neither ignorant or a fool. But there are many opportunities in life that could and would make me both.

So, what I'm learning to do is to seek understanding first. And then, even if I can't wrap my mind (which is finite at best) around something that seems out of the ordinary (of my experience) yet is being espoused by someone whose reputation I trust, I'll withhold judgment.

I wish you would keep silent. For you, that would be wisdom.
- Job 13:5 (GWT)

Sometimes the wisest response is either a delayed response or no response at all.

1 comment:

Carol said...

So very true...sometimes I wish I could take back what I said but...too late.
Trying to grasp this truth...the best thing I can say is nothing..with God's help and messages like this from God's word to your pen...I am blessed. Thanks Rick.