“My child, perform your tasks with humility; then you will be loved by those whom God accepts. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord. For great is the might of the Lord; but by the humble he is glorified. Neither seek what is too difficult for you, nor investigate what is beyond your power. Reflect upon what you have been commanded, for what is hidden is not your concern.” (Reference: Sirach 3:17-26 [As used in Reading the Anabaptist Bible])
I am not sure what can be said. The historic Anabaptist Jacques D’Auchy (d. 1559) used a portion of this verse when he was debating with the inquisitor who was questioning him. It was the standard debate of the inquisitor trying to convince the historic Anabaptist believer to forsake this new faith and return to the Catholic church. Of course D’Auchy refused.
“. . . I was again summoned before the same inquisitor. When I appeared before him, he saluted me, and asked: “How are you; have you the fever yet?” Jac. “I am well, the Lord be praised for it; the fever left me three weeks ago, or thereabouts.” Inq. “How are you at ease in your conscience:” Jac. “Very well, the Lord be praised for it.” He then made a long speech, too long to be briefly related, the sum and substance of which was, that he entreated me very much that I should return to the holy Catholic church, and believe as becomes a good Christian, without investigating such high things, and wanting to be so wise. Thereupon I replied: “I investigate nothing but what I am permitted to believe; and I am well content, simply to believe that which a good Christian is bound to believe.” Sir. 3:21. Inq. “You indeed say that you want to believe as a good Christian, and yet you have a heretical faith.” Jac. “I have no such faith; but my faith is founded only upon the pure Word of God; and if you were content with the Word of God, you would also be satisfied with my faith.”
These verses from Sirach do in a way seem to discourage study of scripture and theology, if the study/exegesis of scripture and study of theology are considered “too difficult”, beyond one’s power, “hidden” or not one’s concern. I do not consider it so, but there are other opinions. One of the things that allowed the historic Anabaptists to consider and investigate a different faith was the availability of the bible to them. Copies of the bible were printed in the middle 1500’s and were priced so that many people could buy them.
Do you study scripture beloved? Do you read about theology or religious study materials? What do you consider to be beyond your concern? And if you are a student of theology and religion, do you feel you remain humble? An important question. But remember beloved, God has given you a mind to think with and intellectual power and ability. Modern Anabaptists/Mennonites believe that the Holy Spirit guides us (or can guide us) in study and understanding. Praying to God for the Spirit to quicken your mind and understanding is a good way to remain humble.
May you beloved study with all the intensity that the love of God and God’s love inspire you to. Selah!