“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love.” – Bernard of Clairvaux
If you’re reading this blog post, then I can assume several things about you. First, you think of yourself as a writer and love belonging to a community of fellow writers. And second, you love learning new things. This generation has a greater wealth of information at their fingertips than any that came before, and this has given us an insatiable craving for knowledge.
This, of course, isn’t a bad thing. But we ought to pause and consider this question: why do we want to learn? What purpose do we have planned for the knowledge we will gain? If we simply plan on hoarding our knowledge and keeping it to ourselves, then we haven’t accomplished a thing for the world around us. If we plan on flaunting our knowledge for all the world to see so that others will admire us and we will feel better about who we are, then we have allowed ourselves to be chained to the harsh taskmaster that is pride. But if we wish to gain knowledge so we can use it to serve others better, well… then we have found the greatest motivation for learning that one could ever have: love.
Believe it or not, the Bible tells us that the purpose of instruction and knowledge is love. In I Timothy 1:5, Paul writes, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
What does that mean exactly? It means that we do not engage in Bible Study and other academic endeavors so we can become puffed up with pride and feel good about ourselves. Nor do we engage in intellectual pursuits so we can look down on others and judge them for not having had the same opportunities for learning that we have been given. No, it means that everything we learn – each piece of knowledge we gain – is granted to us so that we can love and serve others better. Why do we study the Bible? So we can learn to love as Christ loves, and serve as Christ serves.
I’m a teacher, a pastor, and an eternal student. Needless to say, I fell head over heels with learning a long time ago. But I need to continually remind myself that the purpose of my learning is to be better prepared to serve others.
And if I teach my students or my congregation hundreds of facts, without also showing them how to use this knowledge to serve the world around them, then I have wasted my breath.
Friends – let’s get excited about going out there and learning something new today…
…and even more excited about using that knowledge to change our world.