One of those famous cartoons of the 1980’s, G.I. Joe was a paramilitary team of experts and super-geeks that fought the forces of Cobra who, like every villain, wanted to take over the world. But after all of the battles and rescues, just before moving on the next Saturday morning classic, the team had a lesson to teach the moldable minds glued to the television sets: “Knowing is half the battle.”
A boy played with a kite too close to the power lines. Girls were baking cookies and almost reached into the oven without any oven mitts on. Kids were running around in the dark near a busy freeway. One of the Joe’s would step in and help them out, and the children would respond with with, “Now we know.” But knowing isn’t everything.
As Christians we “know” a lot. Thanks to the number of church services we’ve had over the years, the numbers of sermons we’ve heard, the books we’ve read, and the other people in our lives who feel it’s their job to remind us. The Bible says a lot, and deep down inside we “know” it all.
We know we are supposed to tithe and trust God with our finances. We know we are supposed to turn the other cheek and love our neighbors and our enemies. We know that we should be living holy lives. We know we should sound different from the world, think and act differently, and be a shining light in the darkness.
We know, but we don’t do. We used to say things like, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Now we could say, “The mind is knowing but there are so many reasons why I don’t have to.”
Imagine if the kids from G.I. Joe decided that knowing was good, but they didn’t really have to act on that knowledge. The boy’s kit blows into the power lines. The girl reaches into the oven without protection for her hands. Kids play chicken in the dark on a busy road. We would be mortified to see any of those disasters happen. Yet we court disaster for our lives, even our souls, when we “know” but excuse our way out of doing.
“You have seen many things, but have paid no attention;
your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” (Isaiah 42:20 NIV84)
But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. . . . So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. (James 1:22; 4:17 NET)
There are countless excuses we could come up with. But if you we “know” then we ought to “do”. What good is knowing the right path to take if we are going to choose our own?
Somehow we have made “knowing” the end, the goal. If we educate ourselves enough with the knowledge of God and His Word than we arrive at a safe place with God. Knowing is meant to be the beginning, not the end. It is meant to drive us forward to God not serve as an information booth on the road of our design.
What will happen on the day that we stand before the Throne of God to give an account of our lives? It will be a judgment on far more than what we know. Even those who do not believe can pass a knowledge test about God.
But you won’t be pulling out a Number 2 pencil to fill in a multiple choice answer sheet. God is going to open and read the books of our lives that tell of all we have done. Your reward will not be based on what you know, but what you do.
When the truth comes smack in your face, and you declare “I know” it isn’t a surprise. You know that you know. I know that you know. Everyone knows. And yet our lives continue on the wrong trajectory because knowing is not enough. It isn’t even “half the battle.” Knowing is useless unless we choose to act.