Good and Evil; April 5, 2019

Romans 16:19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Paul mentions more people by name in this chapter than he does in any of his other letters, and I wonder if perhaps Tertius, who acted as his secretary for this letter, or perhaps some of the other people who were with him at the time (verses 21-23) didn’t keep suggesting other people Paul might want to greet by name. Be that as it may, the point here is that he felt good about these people, but he wanted them to stay on the right track. Curiosity, the desire to know, is a great blessing, but misdirected it can get us into a lot of trouble. That’s where the expression, curiosity killed the cat, came from. The devil loves to tempt us with “dark knowledge,” and people from Solomon in Ecclesiastes to Darth Vader in Star Wars have been caught in that trap. Actually, that was part of the original trap that caught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:5) That’s what Paul is talking about here. Jesus put it like this: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) We all know some things we would just as soon not know, but the issue isn’t actually the knowledge, but rather what we do with it. We are not to be willfully ignorant, (2 Corinthians 2:11) but our focus is to be on Christ and obedience to Him. (Hebrews 12:2)

I have sometimes intense curiosity, and it has indeed gotten me into trouble at times. I like to know, to pile up knowledge, but I haven’t been the best steward of that pile. I am easily snared by the Internet, constantly learning things that may be interesting but are of dubious utility. I need to get it through my head that not only can I not know everything, I don’t need to know everything! My focus is to be on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, (Matthew 6:33) and not on all the trivia of this world. I already know more than I want to about how twisted and debased people can be – including me – and I need to know more and more about how God can save and redeem anyone by His grace and power.

Father, I am reminded of what a clinical psychologist once told me: “Psychology can diagnose, but it can’t heal.” That psychologist himself got snared in the devil’s trap! Help me focus on You who are the Healer as I deal with myself and all the people around me. Help me walk in the assurance that indeed, nothing is too difficult for You, (Jeremiah 32:27) and allow You to use me according to Your wisdom and power, and not try to do things on my own. May Your good be manifested and evil defeated, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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