We’ve heard of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but what about the Tree of Knowledge and Action standing in our living room?
We’ve decorated it again. There it stands – pointing heavenward but also reaching out. Beneath the shining lights and tinsel is a simple tree whose fading freshness will even outlast the balance it represents. What balance? The balance of knowledge and action.
Knowledge Without Action
My favorite experiment to demonstrate knowledge vs. action is to ask my students about the appropriate procedure for answering questions during class time. A few of them exercise goodness by quietly raising their hands, but many blurt out, “Raise your hand!”
A man once asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. The man knew the traditional Jewish saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.” He had all the knowledge he needed. What he lacked was action.
How often is change hindered by the pride of having knowledge without the goodness of taking action?
Unpacking the Seasonal Goodwill
The Christmas season is a time when many people go beyond what they know and finally reach application. We know we are to take care of the poor, but we tend to remember them more during the holidays. We know we are to love others, but we find it easier to love them when everyone else also loves them.
For me, the bitterness of Christmas is knowing that the majority of goodwill is a passing side effect of seasonal cheer. It will be put away with the tree and decorations, but the lost and needy of this world will remain.
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
What is knowledge without action anyway? The brain and heart are small in comparison to the rest of our bodies. We can’t think and feel enough to help the broken. We have to act on what we know or our love means nothing.
Action validates knowledge. Bearing the burdens of another, praying for this fallen world, and walking a mile along side the broken. This is action.
I challenge myself and others to remember the Tree of Knowledge and Action throughout this coming year. Let our minds continue to grow and reach toward Heaven, but our hands constantly reach outward toward the world.