‘Focus More on Knowing Me’

I desired more knowledge β€” not so I could give an answer for the hope I have, but so that I could win the next argument.

By Liberty McArtor Published on April 19, 2018

I sat in bed, open Bible on one knee and prayer journal on the other. It had been a while since I’d spent quality time with God.

After writing down some prayers, I tried to decide which book of the Bible to study. That’s when God said this:

Focus less on having all the answers right now, and more on just knowing me.

At first, I was confused.

Preparing to “Give an Answer”

For the past couple of years, I felt strongly that I needed to better prepare myself to “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) 

So I set out to gain knowledge. My husband and I attended a Bible class at our church. I read parts of the Bible I hadn’t focused on before. I devoured books and articles from prominent Christian thinkers. 

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And I learned a lot. So when God said “focus less on having all the answers right now,” I balked. But God, isn’t that what you wanted me to do?

Poor Communication … From Me

Yes, that is what God had wanted me to do. But he’s God, and he’s allowed to rein us in when something isn’t right. And something wasn’t right.

Because even as I sought more knowledge about God, I neglected to make knowing him my first priority. 

Our relationship with God is like any earthly relationship: the more time you spend with someone, the more intimately you know them. The more like them you become.

I’d been spending little time with God, and you could tell by my behavior. Instead of becoming more like him, I became more like my old, sinful self, even as my head knowledge increased. 

Thirst For Knowledge, Thirst for Pride

The very next day I had a wake-up call. It happened after an interaction left me feeling intellectually inadequate, to put it lightly.

Now, it’s good to be aware of how little you truly know about something. That keeps us humble. But that day, I let that awareness consume me to the point that I obsessed over it. Why am I so stupid? I shouldn’t have even talked to that person, then I wouldn’t have been embarrassed. Can God use a dumb person like me? I can’t believe how ignorant I must have seemed. 

If we don’t know God, we won’t be like him. And if we aren’t like him, we can’t exhibit his love. And that’s what ultimately wins people over to Christ: his love. Not our head knowledge.

I desired more knowledge β€” not so I could give an answer for the hope I have, but so that I could win the next argument. No longer was I humbly seeking to know more about my Savior so I could better share and defend my faith. I just wanted to feel better about my own smarts.

Later I opened my journal for the second night in a row, and saw the words from the previous night: 

Focus less on having all the answers right now, and more on just knowing me.

Suddenly, it made sense.

Love is Greater Than Knowledge

What good is it if we can answer tough questions about the Bible or win an argument, if we don’t know God himself? No good at all. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:22-23:

On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” 

If we don’t know God, we won’t be like him. And if we aren’t like him, we can’t exhibit his love. And that’s what ultimately wins people over to Christ: his love. Not our knowledge. (See 1 Corinthians 13:2.)

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus says in John 13:35, “if you have love for one another.” Not “if you have superior intelligence about the Scriptures.” The scribes and Pharisees were intelligent, but they didn’t know Jesus. And what did Jesus call them? Hypocrites, serpents, a “brood of vipers.” 

Knowing God Must Come First

That’s why 1 Peter 3:15-16 doesn’t merely say we must be prepared to give an answer. There’s more to it:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (Emphases added)

So yes, let’s learn how to answer the world’s hard questions. But we must remember that knowing God comes first. And if we begin to pride ourselves on all the knowledge we’re gaining about God, or obsess over the knowledge we don’t yet have, he’ll be quick to pull us back in line, just like he did with me.

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