Intelligence is highly valued in our culture—call someone intelligent and he will be delighted! Are there more important things though? Is a man well loved who is intelligent yet rude? Or, does someone who is very intelligent necessarily have right understanding? Could it be that a man of lower intelligence may actually beat out one of higher intelligence when it comes to living a thriving life? How could this happen?
Two men at work
Consider the following story. I hired John, a very intelligent man I know, to take care of a few things at my home. One day I instruct him to work on a retaining wall in my yard and pick up an important package arriving by train from Chicago. Our agreement states that he will be paid based upon how much of the wall he finishes and he will receive a fixed amount for retrieving the package.
On another day, I hire Bruce, a man of low intelligence yet a man of practical experience and common sense. I offer the same terms to him that I agreed to with John.
The two men, given their differing intelligence, come at the task very differently. John has a mind like a steel trap, and has the train schedules memorized. He knows the Chicago train arrives at the station every day at 4:30. He also knows that the route to the train station becomes congested during that time, and accounts for this, calculating that he must leave the house by 3:50 to make it on time. This gives him the maximum time to work on the wall. He has also studied engineering and foundation design, so he knows the latest methods for efficient and sturdy retaining wall construction.
Bruce, on the other hand, does not possess all this intelligence and knowledge. He knows the basics to build a retaining wall, as his father had taught him years ago. He doesn’t know the train schedules or the route to get to the station. So, his first action is to call the station and ask the representative when the train arrives. The representative informs him that a derailment yesterday has thrown off the usual schedule, and the Chicago train will be arriving an hour later than usual. In addition, the main freeway into the station is currently under construction, so the rep informs Bruce of an alternate route.
You can guess how this story ends: our intelligent man John spends a little over an hour sitting in traffic, arriving just too late to get the package, which is instead sent via courier. When it’s all said and done, John spent more time in the car than Bruce, so despite his more efficient process, he didn’t accomplish more of the wall than Bruce did. On top of that, he missed picking up the package, so when his invoice is totaled, he actually made less than Bruce.
What’s the Cause?
Now how did this happen? John was smarter than Bruce, had more knowledge, and had worked out an ideal plan to maximize his efficiency. How did he come in behind Bruce?
John simply did something that a great many people—people of high intelligence and people of low intelligence—do every day. He did not test his assumptions. It’s not that his plan was bad, in fact, his plan was probably better than Bruce’s. But it was based on something false. It was based on the train arriving at a time other than the true time, and it was based on the route to the station being open as usual. Both of these falsehoods are rooted in John’s own mind. He thought he knew, and so he didn’t take the time to check whether or not his beliefs were true. Ample evidence and resources existed for him to test his beliefs and assumptions, yet he failed to use them because he wrongly believed he didn’t need them.
Could This Really Happen?
Perhaps it seems unrealistic that such a smart man as John would so foolishly neglect to check such an important component before making his plan. Surely a smart person would know better, right?
Sadly, there are a great many people, people we meet and talk with every day, who are neglecting something far more important than a train schedule. There are a great many important topics to be studied in this world, and many intelligent people study them each day, but none are more important than questions like these: How did I come to exist? Who made me, and for what purpose? And this one who made me, what is He like?
It Happens Every Day
As with the train schedule in our story, much evidence exists, and many reliable resources are available to answer life’s most important questions. The Holy Bible reveals many things to us about what God is like and what He has done. The historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible are facts clearly demonstrable through the archaeological records and the science of textual criticism. The evidence is available for any and all who will take the time to investigate it. But what do most people do? Do they take an honest look at the Bible and the evidence that it is a document of divine origin?
Most people choose to reject the Bible as their foundation, not because they have looked at the evidence and do not find it compelling, but rather because they have never examined it at all. Like the intelligent man in our story, many people think they know the train schedule, so they just assume the ideas in their mind are right.
The Right Foundation
The sad reality is that if we build our lives on the assumptions in our minds, we will have a grand structure sitting on a foundation of sand. When time reveals the truth of God’s Word and Christ’s promises, many will regret their failure to seek and find the truth. What about you? Are your beliefs about God rooted in reliable foundations or untested assumptions? How much time have you spent investigating the claims that the Bible is God’s Word, reliable and written for you?
The answers and the evidence are out there, and great resources like www.equip.org will help you sort out the truth. The question is, will you seek the truth or will you live tomorrow as you lived today—confident in your belief that the train arrives at 4:30? John’s consequence for being too late was simply losing a little money; realizing Christ is Lord too late will cost you your soul.