Spiritual Quotient: The Type of Smarts We Don't Learn in School

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The understanding of life’s purpose is an important but often neglected part of our intelligence.

For many decades, the world has put great stock in the intelligence quotient (IQ). Psychologists came up with ways of testing IQ—one's intellectual or rational intelligence—to predict success in life. The higher the number, the belief went, the greater the intelligence and therefore the higher the success one could expect. But sheer intellect is only part of the true measure of our intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is another important aspect. In the 1990s, psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized the concept in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ . He used findings from neuroscience and psychology to show the importance of an emotional quotient (EQ) to success in life.

He defines emotional intelligence "as a set of skills, including control of one's impulses, self-motivation, empathy and social competence in interpersonal relationships" (www.danielgoleman.info ).

Another dimension

It wasn't long before other authors were recognizing another new dimension to human intelligence—a spiritual quotient (SQ). This is the intelligence involved in questions about the meaning of life and ultimate values.

But is this so-called spiritual quotient really new? Don't the ancient writings of the Bible indicate that man needs this added dimension to be able to attain his full human potential?

Consider this: "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For "who has known the mind of the L ORD that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians:2:14-16).

The prophet Jeremiah likewise wrote: "I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah:10:23). People may have natural talents and abilities, but verses such as these explain that we can only learn the most important lessons of life by seeking God. Put another way, we have a missing-dimension in our thought processes.

God's Word explains that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah:17:9). Humanly, we want to decide for ourselves apart from God what is right and wrong. This kind of thinking was represented by "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" in the Garden of Eden shortly after the creation of man.

God had explained to Adam and Eve that eating the forbidden fruit of this tree meant death because they were incapable of discerning good and evil by themselves (Genesis:2:17). They needed God's help. After Satan tempted Eve and Eve convinced Adam to eat of the fruit of this tree, they were expelled from the garden and lost close, intimate contact with God (Genesis:3:23-24).

Solving our problem

Apart from God, human beings follow Adam and Eve's mistake in thinking. In order to solve this inherent problem, we need to reconcile with God. Through repentance and baptism, we can receive His Spirit, which joins with our human spirit. This empowers us to understand the things of God, to discern good and evil and the difference between the holy and the profane.

What about those not yet old enough to make the lifelong commitment of baptism? The Holy Spirit can be with, though not yet in, those not yet ready for it, as the example of the disciples shows (John:14:17).

Sadly, it seems that humanity is largely still in the dark when it comes to knowing what is really important. For most of us it takes some event or contact with God's truth for us to realize that we don't know what we don't know. For centuries mankind has been searching for meaning, yet the Holy Bible is God's message to man. Through it, God says: "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah:45:22).

Do you suspect that God has put within us a desire to do more than just repeat a pattern of taking care of our physical needs, acquiring material goods, developing casual relationships and hoping to enjoy some peace and tranquility before fading away? Or are our lives purely existential moments lived only for the here and now?

God's purpose for human beings

The Bible reveals that there is much more to God's purpose for mankind than just living for the moment. God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes:3:11) and wants to share His vast creation with us by allowing us to become members of His eternal family (Ephesians:3:15; 1 John:3:1). As a reader of Vertical Thought, you know that we often discuss this amazing plan. And as you think more about God's purpose for living, His revealed education increases your spiritual quotient.

We human beings can only reach our full potential when SQ, IQ and EQ all work in harmony. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25) demonstrates that developing our talents is worthwhile, but the goal must be to also follow the laws of God and understand His purpose for our lives. We must remember that when we die, we don't get to take any physical things with us, only our hopefully well-developed (converted) mind. God then promises to raise us up as immortal beings.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God gave man the responsibility to manage the creation. This included dominion (rule) over the animals (Genesis:1:26). Also, as custodian of the earth, man was to dress and keep his environment, which wasn't a jungle but a garden designed by God Himself. When we understand that we have the responsibility of stewardship of the earth, there should follow a sense of duty to our Creator and Benefactor.

Understanding and accepting this God-assigned responsibility should also help us realize that our Creator wants us to learn to work together as a part of a family. After all, that is what He has in mind for us for eternity.

God wants mankind to learn the way of life that produces peace and joy for all. A person is often the most miserable when consumed solely with self-interest and when he shuns contact with others. God made us to enjoy relationships, including an eternal relationship with Him.

Explaining this to His disciples and us today, Jesus said, "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you" (John:15:15).

What is your spiritual quotient? A good way to develop it is to read your Bible and keep reading Vertical Thought. If you do, you may be surprised by how much your IQ and EQ will rise as well. VT

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