The Knowledge of God: Part I (The Institutes for Kids)

If you could pile all the stuff that makes you wise into great heaps, you’d basically end up with just two. They’d be called: KNOW-GOD and KNOW-YOURSELF.

To be wise, you need both piles.

KNOW-GOD shows you how amazing God is! He’s big, he’s strong, he’s good! If you KNOW-GOD, you want to sing and jump and bow to him and spend lots of time with him… until you get into that second pile.

KNOW-YOURSELF shows you how miserable you are. You’re small, you’re weak, you’re sinful. If you KNOW-YOURSELF, you want to hide and cry and you get filled with sadness.

But remember how I said you need both KNOW-GOD and KNOW-YOURSELF to be really wise?

KNOW-YOURSELF tells you you can’t find happiness and goodness in yourself. KNOW-GOD tells you that the only place in the whole world where true joy is offered is in God.

Do you see? KNOW-YOURSELF can actually walk you by the hand, right up to KNOW-GOD!

Self-knowledge impossible without the knowledge of God

It’d be great if KNOW-YOURSELF were always this helpful. The problem is, KNOW-YOURSELF can sometimes be a bit of a trickster.

KNOW-YOURSELF might whisper to you that you’re actually pretty good. Sure, you’re weak and silly and sinful — but there’s usually someone you know who’s even more weak, silly, and sinful than you. That can (strangely) make you think you’re actually good.

I know your parents told you not to look at the sun, so just imagine this: When you look around a room and see things, you might think your sight is strong. But what happens when you go outside on a cloudless day and try to stare at the very heart of the sun? Ah! It’s too bright! All of a sudden, you have to admit your sight isn’t that strong.

If we only look at ourselves with KNOW-YOURSELF at our side, we might think we’re pretty good, pretty smart, pretty strong. But as soon as KNOW-GOD chimes in, we realize we’re not good, smart, or strong AT ALL!

That’s why people in the Bible often completely freaked out when they felt God near them. You might think Abraham, Isaiah, and Peter were fine, saintly people, but when they got near God they wanted to tuck tail and run (Gen. 18:27, Isa. 6:5, Luke 5:8)!

So to make sure KNOW-YOURSELF behaves, KNOW-GOD always has to stay right beside it.