“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” (Pr. 19:2)
You’ve heard the old carpenter’s rule, “measure twice, cut once”. Such a statement puts a premium on preparation (measuring) so that the action (cutting) is more effective. In our culture the value of this is often missed. Zeal and enthusiasm are valued for themselves, and the popular mantra is “Better to do something, than nothing at all”. Taking risks are applauded and failure is something necessary for eventual success, all the while ignoring how much our failures can hurt ourselves and others. We believe too much in the power of zeal, being content with finding the right way by trying all the wrong ways, and in the process leaving a trail of carnage in our wake.
I don’t know about you, but if I survey my life, I’ve made too many mistakes with projects and people because I was hasty. On the other hand, I remember few, if any mistakes, because I waited. How many times have we spoken too soon and brought pain or embarrassment to ourselves or others? How many times have we simply launched out on a project, only to discover that we not only had the wrong goal, but were doing it the wrong way and precious time and resources have been unnecessarily wasted? If we’re honest, living with “zeal (but) without knowledge” is the fruit of living by the flesh instead of the Spirit. Making mistakes because of haste often exposes a certain kind of pride and self-confidence that reflects more of the world’s way than the Christian’s way. Haste makes waste and it’s the kind of waste God doesn’t want.
Where do we get the “knowledge” to go with our zeal? God is eager to give it if we are willing to ask, wait, listen, and obey. You know the promises: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all” (Jms. 1:5). But too often we just don’t ask. Who, then, is the man that fears (trusts) the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity (success)… The LORD confides in those who fear (trust) him.” (Ps. 25:12-14). But too often we trust ourselves or fear our circumstances. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth”. Is it not amazing that we do not take more advantage of such a powerful partner? How much better to meet with Him for even 5 minutes at the beginning of our day to pray over our appointments and tasks and ask for His blessing and guidance! And if we did, there is little doubt that many of our tasks would be accomplished easier, faster, and more efficiently, and the result would be far better and more God-glorifying. And even more importantly, we’d be closer to God.
“Father, help us to fear our haste more, and fear waiting on You less. Help us to trust You more than ourselves, and to fear You more than our circumstances. You want to be our friend. Help us to bring you into everything we do by praying about everything we do. Amen.”