Although he was a fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes’ observation about what one stores in one’s “brain-attic” is quite insightful.
“I consider that a man’s brain originally is a like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.” (From Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet.)
Every day, we are bombarded by information. From time to time, we pick up a book or article to read. And as the weeks pass on, we begin to accumulate furniture and tools in our brain-attic.
I find it fascinating–when in conversation with others–how much trivia we can retain. Certainly you’ve noticed it as well. People can recall statistics about their favorite sports team or player, they know the words to numerous songs, they can rehearse the plot of a favorite movie or two, they can carry on a conversation about people and places they’ve known. It’s not that all such information is valueless, but it does seem that sometimes this wealth of knowledge ends up being of very little help in promoting life with Christ or growth in delight in Him.
And if the conversation turns to a passage of Scripture or a quote from the Bible or a topic of doctrinal significance, blank stares and shrugged shoulders can bring the discussion to and end. Things of much greater importance don’t seem to have a place in our minds and hearts.
As we begin the new year, I think it’s worth asking: What will you choose to stock away in your brain-attic? What will you read, what will you listen to, what will you give attention to that will prove valuable to you in your journey with Jesus in the coming year? Without some care about such things, you just might find the important things and deep thoughts crowded out by trivial and meaningless information.
“Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of . . . you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:14-15