By Jamie Trussell
In Ecclesiastes the Preacher states, “with increased knowledge comes increased pain”. Often, this is interpreted and applied in the arena of one individual life. For example, the more I learn about the pervasiveness of man’s depravity, the more helpless I feel in my role to affect change. In this illustration, my increased knowledge produced the increased pain of my despair. There is, however, another application of “pain” with respects to this verse. It is not the pain that our knowledge will cause ourselves; rather it is the pain that our knowledge can cause others.
The Downline Institute will necessarily increase a student’s knowledge of the Scriptures. This is one of its purposes, and this is a good and noble thing. Unfortunately, the pursuit of knowledge quickly becomes perverted when that same knowledge terminates on ourselves and inflames our pride. To be a learned believer is to be a privileged receiver, but often times we are tempted to wield our knowledge as a sword bent on cutting off the legs of anyone who knows less than we.
Allow me to offer two thoughts that have helped me navigate this particular sin struggle. Firstly, we must understand that no matter what we learn, we are still wrong about something. That is the inevitable result of a fallen mind pursuing an infinite and holy being. God is knowable, but He cannot be fully known. Resist the temptation of believing your mind has arrived. Secondly, our motivation to learn should never be to exhaust a subject but rather to experience a personal God. Theology is meant to usher us toward deeper worship; it is not meant to produce useless quarrels or coffee house contests.
As we move forward from here, it is my hope that the second semester of the Downline Institute will find all of our minds stimulated, and hearts motivated, toward a further love of both God and others.