"...Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
I often say I am a fount of useless knowledge. I know a little about a lot of things. When I was younger, I may have come off as a know-it-all. Maybe, even today, I still do. What I have learned over the years, through God's love and help, is that knowing something doesn't mean a whole lot. How that knowledge is applied is more important. We call this wisdom. But wisdom involves a whole lot of love. Love for God, for His Word, for His direction. How can I illustrate?
My oldest son, who has mellowed a lot in recent years, was a handful to discipline from about 2 years to 5 years. I was desperate for answers. I thought I knew how to discipline. I followed every Bible verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child. I couldn't understand why this boy was so incredibly stubborn. Who would take spanking after spanking without relenting? My husband and I were at a loss. I grew tired of the advice to be consistent. I was being consistent. What was I doing wrong? I read every Christian child rearing manual I could find, watched every DVD, listened to every audio CD on the subject, and I tried every method. Nothing worked completely, but some things worked a little. I wondered when the discipline would start "to take". Then I came across some material that changed me. What was my approach? I was disciplining my child in knowledge, but was I disciplining him in love? I thought I was. I had failed to win this child's heart, and that was the key to unlocking how he behaved. I confess, with all of his resistance, I started to become resentful of him. I knew that was wrong, and I fought hard against it, but struggling hour after hour, where every thing was a fight, made it difficult not to feel this way. I loved him, but I didn't like him very much, for a long time. I started to make myself smile more, to ask him more sweetly, instead of ordering him, to keep my calm when handling the discipline. I always started calmly, but after a half hour or so of still dealing with the same matter, I did lose my temper, on more than one occasion. I cried myself to sleep, begging God for help when this happened.
As I changed my approach, I could see my son's behavior changing as well. Now, I noticed that it bothered him more when he displeased me, something that didn't seem to make a bit of difference before. Now, he succumbed to the correction quicker. I am pleased to say that this approach has saved my relationship with my son. It restored it. I would never thought I could say that my oldest has a tender heart. But he most definitely does. I can't take all the credit. God did a work in his heart and life as well when he accepted Christ. I have no doubt that God allowed us to go through those trying times to hopefully be a help to others. Nobody could give me the right advice, because it looked like I was doing everything right. Nobody could see into my heart and see that I was doing it all wrong. I was not disciplining my son from a place of love. I was disciplining him from a place of power, authority, control. These are not bad things by the way, but if not coupled with love, they will get you nowhere.
I had a lot of knowledge. I had a lot of love. But since I didn't apply this love to the knowledge I had, I nearly failed my son. I'm thankful God was able to show me how to correct things, before it was too late. I would hate to have not learned this lesson until his teenage years, and be unable to win him back. Maybe somebody reading this has struggled the way I did. You may know all the right things to do, but if you do not do them from a place of love, you will be unsuccessful. I think I can safely say that carries into any part of our lives.