The Recipe for Success

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. King Solomon

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 

These two passages contain the key to the life of accomplishment that most people want. In the first, King Solomon points out that enthusiasm without understanding is not to be desired. To understand why, let us consider for a moment the lowly lemming. The lemming has oodles of enthusiasm: Just put him and a million or so of his buddies behind another lemming, and they will all follow the leader - and with a great deal of fervor. However, lemmings seem to have a void when it comes to discernment, so they will not only follow the head lemming to tasty lemming food, but also over the edge of a cliff. It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.

In the second passage, James points out the worthlessness of knowledge without action. Consider the child who can sit right next to a ringing phone, but never seems quite able to answer it  - especially if it's your child and your hands are full. You and I might say something clever to the child such as, "The phone is ringing", to which he or she might respond, "I know". They are missing not only the point, but also the zeal needed to act. (It is the parent's duty to view this as a "teachable moment" and supply the proper motivation for the desired zeal.)

It is only when we combine these two ingredients (zeal and knowledge) that our lives can become what God intended. It is this combination of zeal and knowledge that makes effective corporate executives, all-state athletes and straight A students. More importantly, it is this joining of understanding and enthusiasm that makes for great husbands and wives, great parents and children and, especially, great disciples.

Too many people look at examples like this and think that it will not work for them. While it is true that there are a few things out of our reach, (I've about given up on my dream to be the starting center for the Boston Celtics) it's also true that we can accomplish anything that God wants us to. And, just as one part of hydrogen properly combined with two parts of oxygen will produce water every time, when we properly combine zeal with knowledge, we will have success every time. So, what is it that you could accomplish with the right amount of zeal and knowledge?

It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good... Galatians 4:18, NIV