Knowing What You Know


ast December, some coworkers and I watched the funeral of President George H.W. Bush. One of the news commentators stated the President was going to be behind at the University of Texas. I knew that was wrong. He actually was going to be buried at Texas A&M University. (If you are from Texas, or if you pay any attention to college sports, you know there is a big difference between the two schools.)

I corrected the faceless voice on the television, saying it was “Texas A&M University,” not “the University of Texas.” For emphasis, I said the full name of the school: “Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University.”

One of my coworkers, Jeff, was sitting with me when I made that statement. He looked at me with a puzzled expression. He asked me if I was certain the A&M stood for “Agricultural and Mechanical.” I was—at least until he questioned me about it. A quick search on my phone confirmed it was, indeed, Agricultural and Mechanical.

Once I confirmed I was correct, Jeff laughed out loud in disbelief. He said for 50 years, he had believed the A&M stood for “Agricultural and Mining.”

Why did he believe that? Because his father had told him that when he was a small child, and he never bothered checking it.

Jeff’s father loved to joke with his son, and he would often tell him exaggerated stories or make humorous comments. He would generally correct them after a short while and tell his son the truth. However, he forgot to correct it on this occasion; or maybe he did correct it and his son wasn’t paying attention. As a result, Jeff had spent most of his life believing A&M meant something different than it does.

We had a bit of laugh about this, but it made me think:

What beliefs do Christians hold that aren’t aligned with the Bible, just because someone told us they were right?

Stated differently: How do we know what we “know”?

We lived in an age where we regularly hear terms like fake news and situational ethics. However, it is important that Christians know the truth about what we believe and how we conduct our lives.

An action is not right simply because it is popular or politically correct. Likewise, something we have done for many years should be reevaluated if it is not aligned with the teachings found in the Bible.

If you were blessed to grow up attending church, you were probably taught lessons in a variety of settings ranging from Sunday school to pastoral sermons. However, those aren’t sufficient.

Christians are directed to study the Word of God instead of relying on someone else to do it for us. The apostle Paul told Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV). Timothy was a young minister, but Paul’s directive is relevant to every Christian.

We are all ministers of the Gospel whether or not we stand in a pulpit on Sunday mornings, and we cannot fulfill that obligation if we do not know what is taught in the Bible.

The only way we can truly understand the Word of God is to study it. Through regular Bible study, devotion, and prayer, we can be certain that we know what we know as Christians.