Don't be dumb

There is a difference between dumb and ignorant. Unfortunately, I have experience with both. To illustrate I need to reach back into the far recesses of ancient history… yesterday.

Yesterday I spent about 15 minutes looking for my car keys. I finally found them when I looked under some furniture in the living room. No, they weren’t under there. But, to lift the chair I had to clear my hands, so, before moving the chair I had to set down the… keys… why yes, I do have two graduate degrees. Why do you ask?

Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. When you are ignorant, you can’t even be expected to make a good choice because you don’t have the resources for it.

Dumb is having the right information and resources, and still choosing wrong.

Again, ignorance is bad choices because you didn’t have an option. Dumb is a bad choice that was your option… and that’s just… dumb.

I had a high school football coach that loved to say, “You can’t fix stupid.”

I’m sure he was talking to someone else, right?

He was so right, in fact, he was so right he was literally biblical.

At CrossPoint Church I am leading the church through a study of the book of James, but doing a whole book study often forces us to miss some detail for the sake of seeing the big picture. The issue of dumb vs. ignorant is one we had to gloss over, so, here’s a little bit more from James 1:

James 1:5 if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

This whole passage is couched in a section on how to deal with trials. When we suffer adversity, trial, complication we are often buffeted by winds that feel just like the faith storm described.

FEAR – Not knowing what’s happening, or what to do is often one of the most frightening positions we have ever been in, and is often invoked by trials.

CONFUSION – Trials often throw us for a loop and cause feelings of being overwhelmed, hopeless, dizzy and in despair. Each of these are by-products of confusion when we are at a loss for our next move.

ANGER – Probably the most common response to trials is anger. Why? I think it’s because of the same reason people use four letter words… they don’t have a big enough vocabulary to handle multi-syllabic descriptors. So, they have their “go to” words for all occasions. Anger, for many, is the “go to” emotion. We use it when we don’t know what else to do.

Fear, confusion and anger are just three examples of the emotional tailspin that trials of various kinds can throw at you. And, if you will think about each of these examples, they are all fixable.

Fear is caused by uncertainty which is alleviated by wisdom.

Confusion is the product of imagination which is caged by fact.

Anger is fueled by feelings of futility and remember, knowledge is power.

The beautiful thing is that the Bible promises us that those who lack wisdom can ask God who has it and He will give it generously!

You may argue, “So, why are there so many believers whose trials seem to have no answer? I know they are praying… I’m praying with them. Why doesn’t God answer?”

Some of the stock answers include:
*They just need to wait on God
*They are asking the wrong questions
*God works in mysterious ways

Hmmm, maybe.

As a pastor of nearly 20 years I have an observation I’d like to bring to the table.

Some people are just dumb.

Hold on, I do not mean this as an insult. I’ve just seen this pattern so many times.

People used to be ignorant, but God spoke through His Word, a friend, Christian radio, or a Pastor’s blog (hint, hint) and they are no longer ignorant. They just choose not to obey, repent, admit, believe, confess, go, stay, do the hard thing, even though they know the right answer…

That’s just dumb.

Let me encourage you in your trial, struggle or endeavor to take stock of your situation.

Has God already spoken, but the word you received just isn’t the one you wanted? Is it too hard? Is it not quick enough?

Are you waiting on God to show up, or is He waiting on you.

Don’t be dumb.

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