What is it about knowledge that makes us feel powerful if we have it, stupid if we don’t and causes us to pursue it like a wolf seeking its prey? Webster’s online dictionary defines the word knowledge as:
- the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
- acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
- the fact or condition of being aware of something
- the range of one's information or understanding
- the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
- the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
There are two older meanings of the word which include a branch of learning and sexual intercourse.
Here are a few quotes from other people on what they believe knowledge to be:
One of the wisest men in recorded history, King Solomon, had this to say about knowledge.
I could share with you the forms of knowledge, but rather than get bogged down in philosophical terms and definitions, let’s just say for this study there is head knowledge and heart knowledge. Obviously, our head was designed for the purpose of obtaining, storing and using knowledge, in addition to all of the things our brains do, that we actually don’t have to think about like blood circulation, breathing and blinking. The question then is, does the heart think?
The heart, as a muscle in our body that regulates blood flow, does not, itself, think. The brain is still the control center, even when it comes to the beating of our hearts. What then do we mean by heart knowledge? I often associate heart knowledge with our conscience, or for us as Christians, with His Spirit in us. Heart knowledge is that voice of right and wrong that we often hear, telling us to do or not do a certain thing. Heart knowledge also embraces the relationship we have with the Almighty.
We’ve all heard the quote from those sappy sweet Hallmark movies, “Follow your heart.” Or, “What is your heart saying?” But those are just movies. What about in real life? Often people get in trouble for following their hearts, rather than their heads. When it comes to the Christian life, what is the best way to live; by head knowledge or heart knowledge? I think King Solomon had the right idea. Let’s break down that verse in Proverbs into two parts.
1 - An intelligent heart acquires knowledge:
Solomon, himself, shows us in this verse, that our hearts can obtain knowledge. I think heart knowledge has to do with what philosopher’s call procedural or tacit knowledge. This knowledge is obtained through experience. When you first start working a job, you may have no idea how to use the new computer system. Maybe you are familiar with it, but you haven’t actually used it and had it become a regular part of your knowledge base. Once you learn the system, that head knowledge has become heart knowledge and is as easy as breathing (except for the fact that it is technology, which doesn’t always work as it should! Ha, ha.)
Another example of this heart knowledge or experiential knowledge would be a little child. A child knows he/she is not to touch the flame on a candle, because they were told by their parent, but that knowledge does not become heart knowledge until he touches the flame and learns that it hurts. Heart knowledge comes over time and is learned gradually.
2 - and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
The mention of the ear makes me think that this part of the verse is referring to the head. The ears, eyes and mouth, along with our sense of touch are the ways that we obtain what philosopher’s term, propositional or explicit knowledge. This knowledge we can learn from a book, a speaker, a video and other forms of communication that express or share knowledge. Nurses learn about taking blood pressures, making diagnosis and treating patients. They can translate this knowledge onto a test and pass an exam, but this head knowledge does not become real until it is experienced on the floor during their clinical.
Now that we understand the two different types of knowledge, we can move on to why it is important to have both and how this can help us to become more Godly Christians.
There are those who believe head knowledge is the best knowledge. It is only through reading books, studying history and understanding philosophical ideas that we truly have knowledge. This camp does not see the necessity for experience, or at least the necessity for emotional experience. Head knowledge followers actually like to read or listen to podcasts. They love to watch the news and keep on top of all that is going on in the world. Many head knowledge types are walking sources of factual information. Heart knowledge is often looked upon as weak and changing with every whim. Head knowledge without heart knowledge is sterile and lacks compassion.
The other camp says that heart knowledge is best. These are the people who love to experience life to the fullest. You’ll find heart knowledge adherents going to concerts, movies and for long walks in the woods. These types have relationships with their pets and are devastated when a favorite character in a book or movie is killed off. Yes, these are the ones who cry during Hallmark movies and good books. Head knowledge is looked upon as unbendable and critical. Heart knowledge without head knowledge can be lead astray and is easily manipulated.
Obviously, most people do not just fall into one knowledge category or the other. Most of us operate somewhere between head knowledge and heart knowledge, although most of us have a leaning one way or another. My spouse is a head knowledge type of guy. He has a Master’s Degree in philosophy, for crying out loud! Me, I’m a heart kind of girl. I cry at kids movies, love books with complex settings and even more complex characters. For years I lived by my emotions, but I’ve learned that I need to have both head knowledge and heart knowledge to be a well rounded adult.
What does all of this have to do with our walk as Christians? Just as we learned from Solomon, we need to have both a heart and a head that seeks knowledge. I’ve broken it down into two lists, just to keep it simple and to keep this post from getting two long.
Head Knowledge - Read the Bible regularly. Listen to good preachers. Study the Bible more in depth (there are plenty of on line helps for studying scripture more in depth - https://www.biblestudytools.com/library/ , https://www.blueletterbible.org/ , https://bible.org/ , and plenty of others.) Read other sources of Biblical knowledge, such as Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer, D.L. Moody, Oswald Chambers, and a plethora of others. Just make sure that the things you are reading and listening too are Biblically sound (another reason to be in His word and know it).
Heart Knowledge - Worship. I don’t believe there is anything that more quickly connects our hearts to His than to worship in Spirit and in truth. Sing, pray, praise, thank, on your own and with others. Take action. Don’t just read and obtain the head knowledge, but let that head knowledge spur you on to do things. Help out at a soup kitchen, get involved in your church’s children’s ministry, take food to that elderly neighbor who just got home from the hospital, invite people over for dinner to have fellowship. Meditate. Meditation on God and His word was condoned by King David in the Old Testament. This is not some modern, New Age activity. It’s all about where you are placing your thoughts and your heart. I find the best place to meditate is when I am taking a walk, especially on a beautiful fall day or even on a snowy day out in the woods.
I hope that this post will help you and give you understanding of how we are all different and how we, as His people can grow in the Godly trait of knowledge.