Day 2

The Limitations of Wisdom

from the Ecclesiastes reading plan


Ecclesiastes 1:12-18, Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3:1-7, James 3:13-17

BY Ellen L. Taylor

I’ve always loved school. I was never the kid who held up the thermometer to a lamp so I could stay home, and the only time I ever cried about having to go to school was when it was the last day before summer. Even in high school, when getting up at 6:30 in the morning seemed like the worst thing in the world, I was still so happy to be at school once I got there (as long as I got there with some coffee).

Because of my love for school, my family and I have often joked that being a life-long student would be my dream job. And it’s true, really, most of my current career aspirations involve school, school, and then more school. It’s even better that my subject of choice is theology; I get to learn about God every day.

When I was in divinity school, I had a bit of a crisis of faith. I found myself asking, “What is the point of paying all this money to learn about a God who is so beyond our comprehension that we could never learn all there is to know?” The learning began to feel ominous, daunting, and scary, rather than invigorating and inviting.

The author of Ecclesiastes is asking a similar question in today’s reading. Many scholars believe that King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, and he is known as one of the wisest men in the Bible. He has spent all of this time learning and seeking out wisdom, but for what? He writes, “I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly; I learned that this too is a pursuit of the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:17). He has come to the realization that not even the greatest knowledge will satisfy his deepest desire. Nothing compares to a relationship with God.

I found this out the hard way in grad school. One of the hardest things for me was that I couldn’t seem to find colleagues who talked about God like God is real. For so many, God is something to be studied, rather than someone to know. In my life as a writer and editor now, I make every effort to both study and know God, because there is always more to learn, but He already knows it all.

There is a vast difference in knowledge about God and knowledge of God. Even though I love learning more than any other earthly thing, knowledge about God can never compare to the contentment of knowing of God—having a personal relationship with the Creator of knowledge Himself.

Post Comments (87)

87 thoughts on "The Limitations of Wisdom"

  1. Brooke Clark says:

    This is such a comforting thought… that we don’t have to know everything about God right now (I often shy away from sharing my faith with non-believers for fear of not being able to back up their intellectual questions in a way that satiates them)… that’s it’s enough to know of him and be in relationship with him. But it makes me think too… we can and should feel contentment but should not let it turn into complacency when it comes to growing in our faith.

  2. Marti Thompson says:

    In my culture, there is/was a saying: there is 18 inches between heaven and hell. There is a difference between knowing about Him (head knowledge) and having Him reside in your heart as your Lord and Savior (heart knowledge).

  3. Autumn Christmas says:

    Love “there’s a difference between knowing ABOUT God and knowing God”

  4. Kimi Walker says:

    Wisdom, amen.

  5. Kimi Walker says:

    So awesome. Holy Spirit I rely on you for wisdom.

  6. Andrea Vaughn says:

    As I am reestablishing my relationship with God, this puts my mind at ease that I don’t need to be able to rattle off scripture to please my Lord. Thank you for this post. It was well timed as I begin again.

  7. Amanda Joyce says:

    Knowing God personally is truly where we find our fulfillment. While we must learn about God to grow more with Him it is not the root of everything. Knowing God is.

  8. Jessica Marie says:

    Loved these thoughts today

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