Know or Believe
I fancy myself a bit of a wordsmith. Someone who is able to understand and use the nuances and shades different words provide.
I’ve worked with men who are wordsmiths extraordinaire. I always had to keep a dictionary close so I could track with what they were saying. Often I would just nod and smile like I understood, but the blank stare on my face made it fairly obvious I didn’t.
I’m not of that caliber but I do enjoy the precision the right word can provide. This is helpful when I’m trying to be exact in describing something or paint a verbal picture. It is also helpful as I seek to understand what is being taught when I study the Bible.
Recently when I was reading through Romans 8, a word jumped out at me. It was like I had never read it before although it is a verse I have known by heart for many years.
In verse 28 Paul wrote, “And we know.” It was the word “know” that leapt off the page.
What struck me is – just because I know something doesn’t mean I believe it.
For example, I know I would be more healthy, lose weight, have less illness and probably live longer if I ate better, cut out fast food, reduced sweets and eliminated late night snacks.
I believe, however, I can keep up my poor eating habits and none of the problems will affect me that other people face because of their diet.
I say I “believe” this because that’s the way I act. I may know a lot of things but what I truly believe affects what I do, what I say and how I act.
It is important to know things. But knowing something doesn’t really help me unless I believe it and thus allowing it to impact my life.
The full text of verses 28 and 29 state,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”
I know God causes all things to work together for my good, to make me more like His Son. I know He is in control, that nothing comes into my life without His knowledge and awareness. I know God loves me and only wants what is truly best for me.
I know all this, but often there are times I don’t believe it.
Adversity comes and I doubt His goodness and provision. Something happens to one of my children or grandchildren and I question His awareness and protection. My income falls short and I wonder whether He will truly provide as He promised.
There are many things the Bible tells us we should know about God. A few that come to mind are;
Matthew 7:7, 8 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”
Matthew 6:31-33 “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Philippians 4:6, 7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Thinking about these verses and the other promises in the Bible, I have to ask myself, do I simply know or do I truly believe them? As I contemplated this I had to admit how often I just know them and don’t live out believing them.
Something I’ve realized is that to change what I know, to become what I believe, I have to consciously and consistently work on it.
The first thing is to change my thinking.
Paul gives us two passages that challenge us to renew our minds:
Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (emphasis added)
Ephesians 4: 22-24 “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (emphasis added)
I must focus on God’s promises, embracing and engaging them mentally and emotionally.
Something else I can do is to remember how He has worked in the past, both in my life and in others, and hold on to that.
In Psalm 63:6-8 David said,
“When I remember Thee on my bed, I meditate on Thee in the night watches, For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me.”
Moving things from what I know to what I believe so it effects my thoughts, words and actions is a process. It takes time. But the results are so worth the effort, giving us the peace, joy and contentment we long for in our lives.
Written by Mark Armstrong.