Understanding as a noun by definition means to possess the ability to understand something; comprehension and as an adjective it means to be empathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.
Understanding is a critical aspect in life and without it we are lost! With understanding, we are empowered to let go of self-centeredness and practice selflessness in our lives. Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”
Being an understanding person doesn’t take a lot of studying — it takes opening your heart to appreciate what someone else feels or experiences.
Proverbs 2:2-5 says, “Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
Understanding precedes knowledge therefore, we must first seek understanding to gain knowledge. ‘Knowing’ is the expertise and skill acquired by an individual from his experiences and education while ‘understanding’ is a psychological process that requires an individual to think and use concepts to deal with a person, object, message, circumstance, or situation.
I know it’s difficult to equate a distinction between the two because they are both abstract processes of the mind and the brain. However, it is understanding of the connection between pieces of information that are presented and has a deeper level than knowing and, in fact, is essential in order to put knowledge to good use.
In his book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, Franklin Covey said habit #5 is, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood” — this helps us to develop the consideration side of the equation.
Both understanding and knowing are very important for our growth as individuals. They determine how we view and react to our environment and the people we associate with.
Real understanding will come as we realize the interdependence of study and prayer, as we maintain a commitment to serve while learning and earning, and as we trust in and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ. Proverbs 3:5-6 encouraged us to, “Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways submit to Him, and He will make our paths straight.”
Knowledge is power but understanding is the key that unlocks it!