Friday, December 6, 2013

Too Much Information

“I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness.”  (Eccl.7:25)

Just because information is more accessible, doesn’t mean that truth is more abundant. On the contrary, information can be very effective camouflage for truth.

One may argue that we are not much smarter than our predecessors, but it cannot be refuted that we have greater access to knowledge than ever before in the history of the world. I never cease to be amazed at how questions that would have taken hours of research can now be answered in a matter of minutes just by turning on the computer, connecting to the World Wide Web, inserting a few pertinent words in a search box, and then clicking the “enter” key. But as helpful as our present means of communication is, we run the danger of slipping into overload.

The wise man gives us an all too common scenario in this verse from Ecclesiastes. Wisdom may be a noble quest, worthy of diligent searching, but when we find ourselves fixated on finding the reason behind all God’s workings in His world, we become spiritual cranks, who assume that if we can’t conceive of something, neither can God. Or in real (or professed) zeal to search out and label wickedness, we can end up being, if not participators, at least connoisseurs, hardly a godly distinctive.

Besides wickedness, which Paul says he’d just as soon we were all naïve about (Rom.16:19), I think there are other things about which we have (or want) way too much information. For instance, past sins, our own and those of other people. We think the more we know about our previous sinful thought processes, the less likely we are to entertain them now. But that isn’t even reasonable. Sinful thoughts, whether they are conjured up memories or present realities, are still sinful thoughts. In any case, for the child of God, it’s not an analysis; it’s an autopsy! To my way of thinking, the reason I sin is not important. I sin because I’m a sinner.  What I do need to know is that God has forgiven me, and I am now free to go the opposite way. Anything else is too much information.

Not only that, but familiarity that borders on intimacy has come to be considered standard behavior among individuals who have no rightful expectation of it. I’m not only speaking of sexual intimacy, but also friends and acquaintances who are not satisfied until inmost thoughts and longings have been laid open for inspection. Husband and wife relationships are often examined and evaluated as you would a garden plant. With some, it is not enough to tell them what you know, or even think; now, you must tell them how you feel, as well. If you watch today’s news interviewers, you will soon find out it’s not facts they are looking for, but how people react to them. (“How did that make you feel?”) Again, too much information.

There is one more thing I can think of as being better left “un-fleshed out.” Jesus said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34). Trying to put a fine point on our future, or this world’s, is an exercise in frustration; and it is another mindset that can immobilize us. As my husband says in one of his sermons, “Some people refuse to do the next thing because they don’t know all things.” I love the way Jesus points out that we have enough to do taking care of today without worrying about the future. George McDonald has written:

It has been said that no man ever sank under the burden of
the day. It is only when tomorrow’s burden is added to the
burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.

Ignorance may not be bliss, but neither is having too much information. Sins and failures of the past are not even pertinent, much less worthy of present scrutiny. Wickedness of the day deserves little more than a passing glance, and intimate sharing should be reserved for valid intimates. God’s long-range plans for our provision and pathway are strictly on a need-to-know basis, and when we need to know, He’ll tell us. In the meantime, you and I should be like the Apostle Paul, who knew so many things, yet was content to say, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1Cor.2:2). And when all is said and done, that’s all any of us need to know.

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