When I was a student at Freed-Hardeman University, the Mooresville congregation near Lewisburg, Tennessee wanted to send me to help spread the gospel in Georgia. Through one of teachers at the college, I made contact with the church in Savannah, and I preached in my first gospel meeting in an attempt to plant the church Statesboro, Georgia.
I was there for two weeks knocking on doors and inviting the people to the upcoming meeting. On the Sunday before the meeting began, I worshiped with the Bull Street congregation where W.F. Buffington was preaching. I will never forget what he said in that Sunday morning Bible class.
He was discussing a topic dealing with the application of Biblical truths to a moral situation. There was a new convert in the class who felt like he was a Bible scholar and continued to interrupt the older preacher. Brother Buffington was kind, but the young man persisted in his effort to interrupt the teacher. Finally brother Buffington had had enough so he said, “________, you are still too worldly to discuss this and you are not as smart as you think you are. The best way you can help this class is to be quiet and listen to what God says.”
I have thought of this often over the years and have found myself in a similar situation. People who have just a shallow knowledge of the Bible fail to remember what Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up…and if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he know nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 9:1-2). The actions of that new convert are such a vivid illustration of that old adage, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
The wisdom of Solomon on this topic is seen in Ecclesiastes chapter five. “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few.” To hastily speak in the house of God is to act as a fool. When it comes to Bible study, I think often about that new convert. Brother Buffington’s advice, “Let your words be few.”
So many times, we speak too rashly about spiritual matters, especially when our knowledge is shallow. As you study your Bible, listen to what God has said. It is foolish for anyone to add his own opinions about spiritual matters. Study the Bible. Study it often. Study it deeply. Then, humbly tell others about what you have learned.
I will never forget that young convert’s actions.