As we begin a new year, we would do well to heed the writer of Ecclesiastes 9:10, who says “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,…” This includes your spiritual and educational endeavors! However, some people believe education and religion don’t mix, espousing the confused notion that, ‘Ignorance is bliss’, ‘All I need to know is what I know’, ‘What I don’t know won’t hurt me.’ All of which tend to be cop-outs, embracing the idea that people can’t be expected to address a problem they know nothing about, (even if it is an intentional ignorance) and fosters a certain pride in “foolishness”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our Bibles repeatedly praise those who aspire to inform themselves, becoming equipped in the process to succeed. Education is not to be feared and can be a useful tool for employment and its monetary success as well as a service oriented lifestyle. There is a difference, however, between acquiring only a secular education with its attitudes, ideals, and value system, and being well-grounded in the wisdom of God. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians that, “...the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom...” 1 Corinthians 1:25 The “foolishness” of God here not being unintelligence or pride in ignorance, but a means of thinking that contradicts the world’s value system and a lifestyle that promotes unfamiliarity with the ways of the world; selfishness, arrogance, immorality and the idea that man is the ultimate in creative evolution. This foolishness claims that mankind has all the answers within himself and given enough time will conquer the earth’s problems by virtue of his own strength and ingenuity.

Action is thought given substance. Proverbs 32:7 (KJV) declaring that as a man, “...thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Peter admonishing us to , “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have...” 1 Peter 3:15; which comes from confidence in what you know. Christians must be fully functional members of society; able to engage, debate, and convince others in an intelligent, understandable manner. Doing that requires us to be a highly educated people who can realistically offer answers and solutions to the world’s questions, dilemmas, and crises – people who can reason, deliberate and offer alternatives with grace, honor, and confidence. Paul insists that we “…not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The result being that, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is,...” Romans 12:2 Our quest for knowledge and understanding of God’s will has at its root the ability to be prepared, “...as God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...” Ephesians 4:12; whether our vocation be in ministry or a secular occupation. For we are, “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works,…” Ephesians 2:10; and are encouraged to do our best as, “… a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 We do this by setting our, “...minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 Being, “...made new in the attitude of (our) minds.” Ephesians 4:23

Historically, tension between the concepts of the world and the ideals of the church have existed; but Christians shouldn’t be anti-education as a result. We just need to find a balance between the valid education to be attained and the wisdom it takes to use it properly, combining the opportunity for gaining the knowledge the world legitimately has to offer with the wisdom of God found in His word. The key is who we depend on to lead us in a direction of sound judgment and positive activity. The Bible cautions us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 For, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 So how do we achieve a new attitude, a heightened level of preparedness, a non-conforming transformation of our minds and lifestyle? By studying He who is the, “image of the invisible God.” Cor. 1:15 In doing so we can become that person, “…which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:10 (See also Philippians 2:15 & 2 Corinthians 5:17)

This partnership of secular knowledge and Godly wisdom will invest us with an ability for discernment. Scripture does caution, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” 1 Corinthians 3:18,19 However, this is not a call to be simple-minded, it is rather a warning concerning the use of the world’s wisdom as the only gauge by which we measure ourselves. We must understand that the underlying “wisdom” of the world – its attitudes and ideals as opposed to scholarly knowledge, is generally opposed to God’s wisdom and attempts to discredit Him and his call to obedient service; when in fact, God is the source and embodiment of all knowledge.

Many great educators, scientists, and innovators – past and present – were “men of the cloth.” (Pastors, Preachers, Monks) Other men of faith became involved in secular studies who were motivated to understand God’s universe and powerful principles found through scientific examination so that this knowledge could then be used to better mankind’s lot. (Wisdom being the ability to apply what we know well.) They understood the underlying purpose and goal of meaningful education, which is “...for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 1:2-5 The Bible is explicit in its advice as to where to get the discernment and guidance that will compliment and temper the knowledge we acquire. “...if you accept my words and store up my commandments within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:1-6 Jesus assuring his critics that, “…wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Matthew 11:19

But knowledge without active involvement is pointless. Scripture exhorting us to, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity...” Ephesians 5:15,16 Be well-rounded in your education and well-grounded in God’s wisdom. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive...” 2 Peter 1:5