BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Knowledge is power” is a popular maxim. To a great extent, that statement is true. If knowledge is power then to be ignorant is to be weak. Hos 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (NKJV).
In Christendom and in the world, right knowledge is important – I say right knowledge because wrong knowledge could be more dangerous than ignorance. Right knowledge is an asset while ignorance is a liability. Without the right knowledge in any field of human endeavour, nobody will rise to become anything. Ignorance is a barrier to progress in life. The degree to which you rise or advance in life is, to a great extent, proportional to the degree of right knowledge you’ve acquired and utilized. Acquiring the right knowledge will therefore make your life better. “Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction” (Prov 10:14 NKJV).
Prov 13:16 says, “Sensible people always think before they act but stupid people advertise their ignorance” (TEV). Don’t hate knowledge. According to Prov 1:22, fools hate knowledge. Don’t be a fool. Be wise. “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights” (Prov 18:15 TM).
A Nigerian who had lived in the Republic of Togo, a French speaking country, upon his return to Nigeria, was teaching French on a part-time basis in some Nursery/Primary schools based on his knowledge of the language. He wasn’t a qualified teacher, and therefore his opportunities were limited. But after celebrating his 50th birthday, he went to enroll for a full-time Nigerian Certificate in Education (NCE) programme, acquired formal education and earned a teaching certificate in French. I think this took him three years. He graduated some years ago.
He had improved his market value, and therefore got a better employment, which improved his income. He upgraded himself academically, and his life became better. I knew this man when he had no teaching qualification. Right knowledge will empower you and make your life better. Ignorance will reduce you. “Those who get wisdom do themselves a favour, and those who love learning will succeed” (Prov 19:8 NCV).
Have a possibility mind-set as you seek to acquire the right knowledge to upgrade your life. David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister and father of Israel, said, “If an expert says it can’t be done, get another expert.” That’s a profound statement! By another expert he didn’t mean a quack! One man’s impossibility may be another man’s possibility. Nobody knows it all. Seek the right knowledge.
How to acquire right knowledge
1. Fear the Lord and fellowship with him. Acquiring the right knowledge about God is foundational to other right knowledge you may need to acquire. Prov 1:7 says, “Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning” (The Message). The NKJV puts it thus: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (NKJV).
The Bible talks a lot about the fear of the LORD, which you should take heed to. It has great benefits. For example, Prov 9:10 says, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding” (NLT). When you make the fear of the LORD your number one priority, it defines the scope of knowledge you seek. As you seek right knowledge, acknowledge God. This will preserve you from knowledge that is contrary to the Word of God. Knowledge that violates the Word of God will only lead one to hell. Rom 1:28 says, “When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done” (NLT). The ASV says, “And even as they refused to have God in (their) knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting.”
Fellowship with the LORD by studying his Word – from the Bible, you will get right knowledge about God, man, Satan, different aspects of life and even eternity. Ps 12:6 says the words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Fellowship also with the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor 2:10 says the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Prayer is another aspect of fellowship with the LORD. Things are not always what they appear to be but as you pray, you get proper perspectives, accurate knowledge from God. Jer 33:3 says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NKJV).
2. Identify your area of ignorance or the knowledge you lack. Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), British writer and Prime Minister, was right when he said, “To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.” Apart from God, nobody knows everything except, of course, a fool who knows everything!
The rich ruler in the Bible was rich but lacked knowledge about eternal life. Luke 18:18 says, “Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” (NKJV) From that question, you can easily identify the area of his ignorance. After telling Jesus he had kept all the commandments from his youth, Jesus told him, “There is still one thing you lack, … Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22-23 NLT).
If you don’t rightly identify your area of ignorance, you’ll not be able to pursue right knowledge. You won’t be able to ask the right questions.
3. Find out where to acquire the knowledge. Make enquiries about where you can go to get what you lack. Ask yourself: Who do I approach to teach me what I don’t know? Who can be of help to me? You don’t go to an automobile mechanic if your house roof is leaking – you go to a carpenter.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews but he found out that Jesus had what he lacked. That was why he came to him by night. Nicodemus was ignorant about the process of being born again and he was puzzled by Jesus’ explanation. “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” Jesus asked him (John 3:10 NKJV). Jesus dealt with his ignorance before he left. Nicodemus received the knowledge he required and became a better person – a secret disciple of Jesus who spoke up in his defence after a failed attempt to arrest Jesus. “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?’” (John 7:50-51 NKJV).
Nicodemus also brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds, towards the preparation of the body of Jesus for burial after Joseph of Arimathea has secured its release (John 19:39). These two commendable actions by Nicodemus were possible because of the right knowledge he had sought and received from Jesus.
Whether it is on a subject or topic in school or on any life issue, there is somebody who has the knowledge you lack. Find out where to acquire it.
4. Take practical steps to access the knowledge you lack. How do I get the knowledge? Follow the laid down procedure. Is there a form to purchase, fill and submit? Do you need to travel? What is your plan? – The duration of learning: two days, three weeks, one year? A Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” If you don’t take the first step, you don’t go anywhere. How long does it take for four, five, seven years to pass? It will just be like yesterday.
Meet the person and discuss with the person the process he’ll take you through. It could even be an organization – engage in communication with the organization.
The Queen of Sheba left her country to test Solomon with hard questions and discuss with him. In Luke 11:31, Jesus said she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. She wasn’t just satisfied with what she had been told. She decided to come personally to find out Solomon’s fame and wisdom. The original incident is recorded in 1 Kings 10. Verses 2-3 say, “She arrived in Jerusalem with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, huge quantities of gold, and precious jewels. When she met with Solomon, they talked about everything she had on her mind” (NLT).
Queen of Sheba was wise; she went to contact right knowledge from a wise king. Don’t forget fools hate knowledge (Prov 1:22). Therefore don’t company with fools. Fools have no right knowledge to pass to you. Prov 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV).
5. Invest in your goal. Talk is cheap! Goals are hardly achieved by accident. Every goal requires investment. There is a time to plant and a time to harvest (Eccl 3:2). There is a time to suffer and a time to enjoy the fruit of your labour.
To acquire right knowledge, it will cost you time, money, sacrificing other things (forgoing alternatives), delaying gratification. You may have to pay school fees or course fees, spend time to learn in the classroom and study or learn at a workshop or factory. You may just even have to buy books and study them privately. Charles Spurgeon said, “Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.” Be ready to invest whatever is required.
Are you ready to pay the price? Don’t forget the Queen of Sheba travelled a long distance to learn from Solomon. The investment of today will yield returns tomorrow. Prov 14:23 says, “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! ” (NLT). If you endure today, you’ll enjoy tomorrow.
6. Cultivate and demonstrate the right attitudes. Discipline yourself to learn. Drop your ego. Humble yourself. Don’t be ashamed to admit that you don’t know and you need help. That was what helped the Ethiopian Eunuch to overcome his ignorance. Acts 8:30-31 says, “Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah; so he asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ The man replied, ‘How can I, when there is no one to instruct me?’ And he begged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him” (NLT). Phillip went ahead to explain to him and eventually the man was born again and baptized in water. If he had not admitted that he was ignorant, he wouldn’t have been helped. What you don’t know, you don’t know! Don’t say, “How can I allow people to know that I don’t know this?” That means you’ll continue to wallow in your ignorance pretending to know when others are seeking help and are making their lives better!
Be ready to change; be ready to throw away the wrong things you’ve learnt over the years. “Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Prov 12:1 NKJV). Open your eyes, your ears and your heart. Forget about the age or style of your teacher/trainer – go for the substance that you need. It makes no difference that you’re older than your teacher or you have more paper qualification than him. You may not even you like his style. What is important is that you’re delivered from ignorance, that you’re imparted with the desired knowledge.
Be a sincere student not like the Pharisees and the Herodians who were asking Jesus question on whether or not to pay tax but their motive was really to catch him in his words but he gave them the right answer (Mark 12:13-17; Matt 22:15-22; Luke 20:20-26). Ask questions that will enrich your knowledge. Don’t ask questions to merely test the knowledge of your helper.
Pay attention. The Bible talks a lot about paying attention. Everyone seeking knowledge must pay attention. Without paying attention, knowledge will escape you. Jesus said, “And be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand — and even more, besides. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them” (Mark 4:24-25 NLT).
Pay attention. The more you pay attention, the more the understanding you have and the more the knowledge you can keep. Prov 5:1-2 says, “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, That you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge” (NKJV). Prov 7:24 also talks about listening and paying attention. Be attentive; be focused. Avoid distraction or discouragement. Follow through. Complete the learning process and programme.
7. Practice the knowledge you acquire. Practice makes better; practice makes you more proficient (either positively or negatively). Put into practice right knowledge acquired. That’s how to internalize, own or make the new things you’ve learnt your personal possession. Paul said, “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing…” (Phil 4:9 NLT). Wisdom is the right application of knowledge. Right knowledge not applied is useless. The more you practice, the greater your chances of becoming better. Charles Spurgeon said, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”
Conclusion: Prayer is important in life; it is powerful. But not every issue of life responds to prayer when one fails to do the basic things that God expects of one. This is an error that has kept many lives in mediocrity. Prayer will never be a substitute for human responsibility. If your life must be better, you must do what God expects you to do, and God will do that which is His responsibility. God’s sovereignty does not cancel man’s responsibility. Prayer does not free you from your responsibility. If you’ll act upon this message, you’ll experience greater manifestation of answers to your prayers, and your life will be better
If you’re not born again, kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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