Applying Knowledge


If I applied half the books I have read in my life I would be twice the man I am now. This may sound grim, but it is an encouragement to myself and to you to turn knowledge towards its intended purpose.

The accumulation of knowledge is not virtue nor a substitute for virtue. Virtue does not consist in the ability to describe it but consists in its manifestation. A man is not humble because he can describe it, but because he lives humbly. J.I. Packer said that “it is impossible to obey biblical truth that one has not yet understood.” Certainly one cannot be virtuous if one does not know what is virtuous, so we must be all the more careful in our pursuit of virtue.

A man who went to school to become an engineer yet does not use that knowledge in the workplace may rightly be questioned, “Did you learn anything in school?” So we must, and I must, ask ourselves of the 52 Sundays each year we attended church and countless books we have read, “Did you learn anything in school?”

Unapplied knowledge is vain. One may think of the poor and helpless who had little education but came to Christ and were overwhelmed with His love and so applied the love of Christ to their lives. They may have a small breadth of influence with whatever they apply that knowledge, but the depths to which that love is applied in that small arena is beyond estimation. Millions may not be changed, but certainly one life was severely affected by that love. Conversely, a man may “fathom all mysteries” yet only to prove that he is shallow and, even “nothing.” He may win the crowds yet they may return home no better than before.

Learn to apply the knowledge you do have before you seek to apply the knowledge you don’t have, for “he who is faithful in a little is faithful in much.”

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