Question:

Good evening.

I am having trouble understanding intellect. Is intellect a worldly thing or does it come from above?

I understand Colossians 3 and how it identifies the things we should be thinking about and the things we need to mortify. It didn’t mention intellect precisely, but I do believe it takes intellect to know these things. I don’t know if I am placing too much emphasis on the word "intellect," but I do believe it encompasses many aspects of our spiritual lives. I believe that most of my emphasis on this subject is coming from my lack of self-esteem when I compare myself to someone else who is more “intellectual” than I am. That is, I see them as smarter and having more wisdom than I do. I question whether this is a lack of confidence is from the flesh or if I should rightfully feel this way.

I am a Christian who strives to do all that she can do, but I get discouraged when someone is smarter than I am. I am not jealous of their talents of knowing more than me or being able to grasp things quicker than I can. But I become discouraged when I know I am trying my best and feel as if I am missing something that others are grasping that I can’t seem to grasp. Is that sinful?

I feel like I am always missing something or am being short-sighted of something and it makes me feel like I am doing something wrong because I am not thinking the way they do, or that I should be thinking the way they do because I'm a Christian and we need to be united in our thinking. It makes me feel like I am doing something sinful because I am not getting it right all the time.

Will I be judged for not being as smart as someone else even though I am trying my best? Or am I missing something that I should know already that I am ignorant of?

This thought really concerns me.

Answer:

"Intellectual" is not a term used in the Bible, so we are going to limit ourselves to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Knowledge are facts about life. I know that three apples plus two apples give me five apples. Facts are truth, they don't change.

Understanding is my ability to logically reason about life. I understand that having five apples gives me enough to bake an apple pie. Understanding is the combining of facts to gain greater information.

Wisdom is the ability to look at a situation and know which facts and which logical reasons are needed to solve a problem. Thus, it is wise to realize that if I bake an apple pie, I can invite my friends over who are having a disagreement to talk about the problem while sharing something we all enjoy.

True wisdom, knowledge, and understanding come from God. "For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy" (Ecclesiastes 2:26). "But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding" (Job 32:8). However, you will always find people who believe they can out-think God.

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.'  Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord'" (I Corinthians 1:18-31).

Therefore, if someone tells me that something is a really good idea and we should do it, but I know that it goes against something that God said in the Bible, then I stick with what God said. It has always done me well. I can't tell you how many times someone has told me that the world would end on some date. I remember that Jesus said that one knows when the end will come (Matthew 24:36). Thus, I tell people with confidence that the world will most likely not end on that date and the person making the prediction is a false teacher. It gets a lot of people upset, but God has been right every time.

If it takes you a bit longer to grasp ideas, that is fine. Don't let yourself be bullied into making quick decisions. Allow yourself the time to think about it and also to ask others you trust about their ideas on the matter. Often, one of your friends will think of something that you didn't notice. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel" (Proverbs 12:15).

So here is a final piece of advice: Don't compare yourself to other people. You are your own person. You will be judged by God for the things you do -- not how rapidly you think of things.

Response:

Mr. Hamilton,

I appreciate your response to my question and concern. It confirmed the search of my studies for the past couple of months on this subject.

The scripture from Corinthians was wonderful and has actually been a great verse for me to meditate on. James 1:5 and Matthew 7:7 have stood out as well, and you have been partly responsible for me finding those answers revealed to me.

Your site has honestly been so beneficial for my spiritual growth! I’ve been faced with so many conflicting questions and your site almost always seems to have the answer or it leads me closer to the answer.  I hope that I get to visit your congregation one day! Your site has also been a great evangelism tool! I’ve used your links in almost every social platform that I have.

I pray that it leads more people to the truth because it has definitely helped me and others that I’ve studied with.

May God bless you and continue to give an increase in all!

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