I heard it again yesterday, in my pastor’s message from Matthew 5:21–26. Here, Jesus speaks about the difference between the heart of the Law and the interpretation of the Law by the Pharisees. The Law was given to us by God to tell us how to live (and to show us we couldn’t do it without His help). But the Pharisees tried to obey the Law in their own strength and wisdom. So they added layer upon layer of meaning for determining how to obey it and when it had been broken and how that would be punished. It was confusing and suffocating, to say the least.
My pastor then commented that the Pharisees added these layers in such a way that they themselves were, of course, innocent and in obedience to the Law. They stacked the deck to favor themselves and rob the people blind. Their knowledge of the layers they created gave them power and confidence and arrogance. This is why the Word warns that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1–3).
Their knowledge made them comfortable, blind to their need.
They had no need for God in their spiritual lives. Everything was just fine as it was—they were smug with their performance and comfortable in their position. They had the Law wrapped up tight in the layers they knew how to obey.
Lack of knowledge is not very comfortable. When I am unsure of what will happen next or where I am going or what I will say, it reminds me of my lack, my need for something outside of myself. I have to ask for help and lean on people who know. The alternative is avoiding what I don’t know or refusing to ask for help. But if I never admit what I do not know, I will never grow.
Growing requires me to face reality: I do not know everything. And if I refuse to ask for help, I will never learn the sweetness of grace and mercy in my time of need. Not knowing is not all bad.
How does your need for knowledge keep you from growing or leaning on others?