“We all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect (mature) man” James 3:2
Quite a few years ago during a family discussion on a particular activity I espoused some knowledge from my distant past experience with that activity. My son (in his twenties at that time) was amazed and asked how I knew so much on that subject. What he didn’t know was that I had participated in the activity in question for several years but it was all before he was born. He didn’t know what he did not know. This is true with us in regard to the Bible. It may seem to us that there isn’t any more to know, that we know the whole story, but we cannot know what or how much we don’t know.
The verse above reminds us to be humble and teachable with regard to the Bible. Pride will want to make us an authority in order to make us feel good or to elevate ourselves and diminish others in our sight. Then we will “stumble in many things.” We may not say it outright but in our hearts there is pride that will make us feel a little better than others. It may be that some Christians have little interest in further study of the Bible because they think they know all there is to know. James wrote, “We ALL stumble …”
Understanding God’s word is very important in living our life with Christ but it is not the ultimate objective. The Bible is replete with affirmations on the importance of knowing and understanding God’s word and wisdom in its application but it is not the ultimate goal. We seek Jesus. Paul writes, “… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). Yes, we will stumble in many things but let us keep our eyes on Him. There will always be more that we don’t know so a humble teachable spirit should underpin our character. This involves placing ourselves where we can learn and is why God has given gifted teachers to the church.
We acknowledge that there is more to know and understand but that does not mean that we should be as the wind blowing to and fro when it comes to doctrine. The Holy Spirit is the One who will help us to learn and understand God’s word. After all, it is He who moved men to record what we now have in the Bible. Our part is to read the Bible daily, meditate on it and study it. God will then take us through life experiences that will help in our understanding.
The mature Christian will know that there is a limit to his knowledge and will not be lifted in pride so as to stumble in word.