Knowledge and money are not seen as inherently evil in the Bible (e.g. Prov. 15:14; Job 1:1-3). But they are seen as great temptations to evil (think of, “the ring,” from Lord of the Rings, e.g. Luke 16:9; 1 Cor. 8:1; 1 Tim. 6:10; etc.). Yet they are also seen as necessities, at some level, for us living and functioning (e.g. Ecclesiastes 10:19; Hosea 4:6).
So how can we possess and use these gifts without them possessing, using, and corrupting us?
I think the key can be seen in 1 Tim. 6:17-18:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth…be generous and willing to share.
Don’t be arrogant
Hope in God, not your riches
Be generous and willing to share
The same applies to those with lots of knowledge. This can be a blessing if you are not arrogant (the God who gives you eyes to see can just as easily blind them), don’t hope in your great intelligence, and be willing to share what you know.
On that last point (being willing to share)…It’s true that sharing freely opens up people to misuse what you give them (with money or knowledge). It will also make you vulnerable and open you up to criticism when you share. But I believe this is all part of God’s strategy in keeping you humble and Christ-centered in the midst of having knowledge and/or money. Be faithful to share because it honors God, even if it opens you up to new risk. In fact, being generous with your knowledge and money likely (in ways beyond my comprehension) will set you up for an increase in both of these areas (not a guarantee, but a general principle).
Thanks to Peter Williams for making some of these connections for me.
For those who aren’t aware, I highly recommend you check out Google’s Ngram Viewer. This tool provides simple analysis on word usage over time (it searches millions of Google’s digitized books for its data).
Thus, we can see which concepts are hot and which are not, at least as far as the written word goes. Let’s give it a try…
Anyone else willing to help change these trends by the help and mercy of Christ?
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all…Affliction will slay the wicked.
Psalm 34:19-21, ESV
Both the righteous and wicked have afflictions. Anyone who told you otherwise is a liar. The difference, however, lies in what comes next. For those who know God, they will see a deliverance. Their affliction, by God’s glory, will turn into life.
In contrast, the wicked will be killed by their affliction.
You will notice the bold parts. Fearing God is used interchangeably (or at least closely related) with taking refuge in God. When the Bible refers to fearing God, it means doing things in such a way that you are chiefly concerned with pleasing/respecting/honoring God. We don’t fear Him as a malevolent being. We fear Him as the all-powerful being who is simultaneously very good!
Thus, our fear of God does not drive us away from Him. Rather, it drives us toward Him in a way that pleases Him. And in doing this, we are brought right into the refuge of His strong arms. Fear of God is the ultimate refuge.