Have you ever been excited about something you heard someone say? Have you ever felt sad or angry about something someone said? Or maybe, words have left you unsure or even speechless? The truth is: there is great power in the words that we speak.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
This is so powerful. We can actually speak death or life from the words that come out of our mouths. It’s also important to note that words can bring about certain feelings and emotions and what comes out of our mouth is a pretty accurate indication of what we have in our hearts (Matthew 15:18).
I remember a few years ago, when my family was hoping to travel to Jamaica for a vacation but it just didn’t quite fit our budget at that particular time. We prayed about it and sensed that it would somehow work out. Some time passed by and I came across a contest which looked very interesting. You had to come up with a short video which had to include a Christmas jingle tune and some other requirements. What really caught my attention was the prize which was an all inclusive vacation for two to any resort in Jamaica. I immediately shared it with my spouse and said, WE CAN WIN THIS!
We got on it right away and came up with the video and waited a bit to submit it. I will never forget the moment on Christmas Day when they made the announcement on Facebook that we had won. What an amazing blessing it was and we definitely enjoyed the trip. You see, I spoke the words believing in the One who would bring it to pass.
Power of Words
The Bible is full of many verses that talks about words so today let’s look at 3 examples of what words can do:
1. Words can help accomplish a purpose.
Psalm 33: 9
“For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”
Here, we see a cross reference from Genesis 1:3 when God said, “let there be light” and there was light. God spoke and He accomplished a wonderful purpose here in the story of creation and of course we see many other examples throughout the Bible when God speaks to accomplish different purposes.
2. Words can bring comfort to others.
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
I don’t know about you, but I love sweets. They taste good, and give you a nice “pick up” when you need it. The words that we use can bring great comfort to others and make them feel better. This is so important especially in these times when many people are in isolation. Let us be encouraged to bring pleasant words to others to make their day. It is amazing how long of a way this can go. Just try it.
3. Words can allow us to grow and mature spiritually.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
What a beautiful prayer we see here by David. When we ask God to look inward, He will change us from the inside out which will result in us using words that will allow us to grow and mature spiritually. Let us be encouraged to make this a daily check for us when we are praying.
Prayer is Essential
As children of God, we are constantly being renewed and transformed. It’s a process and it’s something that we experience each day. That’s why prayer is so important. It is a great way for us to ask God to search us, as David did often.
At OMS Canada, prayer is essential to us and we believe in the power of praying. Would you consider using your words to pray with us? We pray together every Tuesday and Thursday through zoom. Please contact us to get more details. We would love to have you join us.
What kind of words have you been using lately? Are they building up others?
Let’s use this powerful tool that we have to praise God, build others up, and speak life into our lives and families. Speaking life is something we need to make a priority and practice in our lives daily. I once heard someone say that if we placed a live recorder in our homes for a full day, the interesting and maybe not so interesting things we would hear.
Let’s be encouraged to speak life. In every challenge, in every situation, in every battle, and in every season. God is there through His Holy Spirit to comfort us, guide us, and encourage us when we need it.
Welcome back to the Commands of Christ blog series where we are examining together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus and which are essential for new disciples to understand and obey. If you missed the first seven posts in this series you can find them by clicking Repent and Believe, Be Baptized, Pray, Make Disciples, Love, Worship, and Observe the Lord’s Supper.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post, we will look at the eighth of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This command is to give and is found in Matthew 6:1-4.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Here Jesus is working on the assumption that disciples would be giving and goes deeper to the heart of how we give. We are to give as an act of righteousness and we are not to not use our giving as a way to practice this righteousness to be seen by others.
It is also worth noting that Jesus does seem to make some reference to a possible motivation for giving. “For then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.”
Think about it; we are often told that if we give with an eye on what we might receive from our giving, then our giving is tainted. To be charitable is to be free from self-interest. But Jesus seems to contradict this notion and encourages the desire to receive a reward from our Father who is in heaven. Very interesting, don’t you think?
Nonetheless, there are some questions about giving that we would do well to consider. So here they are.
What should we give to God?
Each one of us has three resources that we should give to God. These are time, talent, and treasure.
Time is one commodity you have that God can use for His purpose. But you might not have even thought about it. Your time is probably like a lot of people’s time…there is precious little of it, but if you are spending your time on the right things, then you are making good use of your time. You are being a good steward with what you have been given, and since none of us know when our last day will be, we must make the most of the time God has given us. Think of your time as an offering; unless we use our time wisely, we’ll spend it uselessly, like we tend to sometimes do with our money. Try to keep track of what you are using your time for. You might be surprised how little time you are spending for or with God. We are challenged to redeem the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). So let’s decide to do a better job with our time.
Talent is another commodity we have that can be given for God’s use or not. I believe everyone has a talent of some kind. Many have several talents, but everyone has at least one talent. You have a God-given talent for something, perhaps something that can be useful for the Body of Christ (Matt 25:35-36). Whatever it is, you can use it for the glory of God and for Jesus Christ Himself (Matt 25:40). What is done for the least of those is done for Jesus, so what is your talent? I’m sure you have one. Maybe it’s your smile and positive attitude, and living a life of faith that others find attractive. Perhaps it’s a skill for listening and not judging, but just letting others talk. If could be in music, art, writing, plumbing, or just being a diligent person. These can all be used for the kingdom of God. Whatever talent you have, use it for the glory of God.
Our treasure is usually where our heart is. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21). This is why the Lord said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:19-20). Whatever you store up here will do no good for God, but whatever you do for God on earth you are storing up treasure in heaven. You can’t take it with you, but you can forward them ahead. And it is no surprise that funds are usually necessary for ministry to happen, especially when that ministry takes place across the ocean, as is usually the case for missionaries.
So let’s be generous with our time, talent, and treasure.
Why should we give to God?
The first answer to this question is that we are commanded to give.
The second answer to this question is that giving changes us. God can do so much more through a wise, giving, mature person than a person who is overly concerned with possessions of this world. Our money and belongings can disappear or get destroyed at any time and if we place too much value on them, we will be devastated when they are gone. God wants our treasure and worth to be with those things that can never be destroyed or taken from us, namely Himself and the people He has put in our lives. “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:19-21).
As God changes our hearts to be more like Him we learn to focus on what is eternally important instead of on the temporal things of this world. Paul reminded the Corinthians to do this: “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2nd Corinthians 4:18). By opening our eyes to what God may be doing behind the scenes, we can step out in faith, obey when He asks us to give, and rest in His plan in the midst of unknowns and seemingly scary circumstances.
The third answer to why we should give is that our giving glorifies God. Giving simply is not part of our sinful human nature. We are born looking out for our own desires and comfort. As we grow up and learn values, especially as we get to know God and submit our lives to Him, He changes us to be others-minded and to trust in Him to meet our needs. The fact that selfish, sinful human hearts can be changed to put others first can only be attributed to God, thus our giving gives Him glory.
And the fourth reason why we should give is the blessing that we will receive. Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” There can be no mistaking what He says here. Give generously because the measure you use to give is the same measure that will be used back to you.
How should we give to God?
There are basically three things to consider when we ask how we should give to God.
The first is that we should give generously. In Matthew 10:8 Jesus gives the principle that since you have received freely, you should give freely. Since you are the recipient of God’s lavish grace and His generous love in Jesus Christ, we should also be lavish and generous with the time, talent and treasure that we give as well.
The second is that we should give cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves someone who gives cheerfully. Period.
And the third is referenced in the command of Matthew 6. We are told that our giving is to be done in secret, without any attempt to be seen by others. And the reason seems to be that there can only be one reward for our generosity. Either we receive a temporary reward from man or we receive an eternal reward from God.
Who should we give to when we give to God?
Acts 4:34-35 gives us a picture of who the early church gave to.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Their giving was directed to all who had need. This ought to be our pattern as well.
So how are you doing with your giving? Do you consider your time and talent a resource to be given like your treasure?
Is one of these three easier to give than the others?
What change can you make this week to be more intentional about giving in one of these three areas?
Welcome back to the Commands of Christ blog series where we are examining together the nine foundational commands given by Jesus and which are essential for new disciples to understand and obey. If you missed the first six posts in this series you can find them by clicking Repent and Believe, Be Baptized, Pray, Make Disciples,Love, and Worship.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:18-20).
In this post, we will look at the seventh of nine foundational commands that Christ gave for disciples to obey. This command is to observe the Lord’s Supper and is found in Luke 22:7-20.
“And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
So Jesus made it clear that the disciples were to participate in this kind of ceremonial meal as a remembrance of Him, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” This is the command. But there are probably questions that arise from this command, perhaps even among Christians who have been observing the Lord’s supper in a fellowship. We are going to look at some of those questions and hopefully bring some clarity and understanding to the practice.
What is the Lord’s Supper?
It is significant that Jesus makes the connection to the Passover celebration. The Passover took place when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and God, through Moses, brought about the deliverance of His people after the plagues were unleashed against the Egyptians. The tenth plague was the one resulting in the death of every firstborn. And God gave very specific instructions to His people so that they might avoid having their firstborn killed.
The instructions were very clear; they were to take a lamb for the household. The lamb had to be without blemish, a male a year old, taken from the sheep or the goats, and the lamb would be killed at twilight. Then some of the blood of the lamb was to be put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house in which they ate it. The blood would be a sign for them, on the houses where they were. And when God saw the blood on the doorposts and lintel, He would ‘pass over’ them and the plague would not befall them to destroy them when God struck the land of Egypt.
This celebration was a regular part of the Hebrew calendar on the fifteenth day of Nisan, which usually falls in March or April in our calendar. It is this celebration that Jesus was anxious to celebrate with His disciples. But they had no idea that this was going to be the institution of the new covenant. And this new covenant was something that the Jews had been anticipating for a long time.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My rules and obey them. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God,” (Ezekiel 11:19-20). (Ezekiel 36:26, Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10)
Why do we observe the Lord’s Supper?
The most straightforward reason we observe the Lord’s Supper is because we are commanded to do so. “Do this in remembrance of Me,” (1Cor 11:24-25). We are commanded, so we obey.
But there are other reasons tied up in the command as well.
The observance of the Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of Jesus and what He accomplished for us in establishing the New Covenant. Jesus has become our Passover lamb, without blemish, at whose blood we are spared from the judgement. If this isn’t an event worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.
Observance of the Lord’s Supper also serves to proclaim the Lord’s death until He returns, (1 Corinthians 11:26).
It also serves to remind us that His body was broken and His blood was shed to secure our salvation.
And observing the Lord’s Supper also indicates loyalty to Christ and not to idols. There can be no compromise. “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake at the table of the Lord and the table of demons,” (1 Corinthians 10:21-22). To eat at Jesus’ table is to be committed to Him, identified with His people, and dedicated to the service of His cause in the world.
How do we receive the Lord’s Supper?
This question of how and the next one of who are closely related to each other. When considering how we are to receive the Lord’s Supper, we need to look into 1 Corinthians 11:27-32. It is here that Paul makes it clear. We must receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
Paul first says that whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup in an unworthy manner is guilty concerning the body and the blood of the Lord. This is serious business with serious consequences. Verse 30 tells us that there were those who did eat and drink in an unworthy manner who died as a result. To come to the table, holding onto one’s sin does not only dishonour the ceremony, but it also dishonours His body and blood, treating lightly the sacrifice of Jesus for us. Doing so mocks the sacrifice for sin by holding on to sin.
So Paul tells us that one must examine oneself before partaking of the Lord’s table and if there is unconfessed sin, one must make confession with a repentant heart. If the sin involves a brother or sister, one must seek forgiveness from the offended person. In this way we are able to ensure that the Lord’s Supper is observed in a manner worthy of the sacrifice.
Who should receive the Lord’s Supper?
It should be clear that only those who have been born again may receive the Lord’s Supper without fear. Only those who have been born again and have made sure that there is no unconfessed sin that remains.
This is a command that we need to observe if we are to be disciples of Jesus. So how are you doing? Do you observe the Lord’s Supper? How have you been doing so during the lockdown? How often do you celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
If you haven’t been doing this, when will you begin?
Waiting in our “daily”
Today we are going to be talking about waiting. We will look at some examples of things we wait for, some reasons why God allows us to wait at times, and a story in the Bible that demonstrates the most important message about waiting.
The average person on a daily basis spends approximately 2-3 hrs of waiting in a day. Now this is very approximate because our daily routines are all very different. But, we all do spend time everyday waiting for something.
Some examples of things we wait for everyday are:
-waiting for our food to cook or warm up
-waiting for our coffee to brew
-waiting for our phones and computers to load
-waiting for someone to get back to us
Now with most of these things we typically wait for on a daily basis, they end up turning out ok. We finally get to eat that delicious meal, the coffee finally brews, our computers load, etc.
The truth is that even in these moments of waiting in our daily lives, most of us don't like to wait because it can generally make us feel frustrated, confused, impatient, and unsure.
But what do we do with those feelings?
This is a very important question we need to ask ourselves especially during times of waiting on the Lord.
Purpose in Waiting
Have you ever waited on God for something? Maybe right now you are in a season of waiting.
Be encouraged today because God does often allow us to wait on Him because there is purpose in the waiting.
Let's look at 4 reasons today why God allows us to wait at times:
1- Waiting allows for God's perfect timing and will to be done.
2 Peter 3:8
"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
God is not limited by our time and schedules. He has all of the resources for every possible thing and we need to trust in His perfect timing in our lives.
Abraham in the Bible was waiting for a son. God had made a promise to him (Genesis 15:5) and he had to wait. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was the promise child that Abraham had to wait for. This was God’s perfect timing and will that was brought forth, as promised.
2- Waiting builds patience in our lives.
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
We've heard the saying, if we ask God for patience, He will allow us to be in situations that give us the opportunity to be patient. Waiting is one of those things that definitely allows us to build our patience.
3- Waiting transforms our character.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
While waiting is often out of our control, we can choose to have a positive outlook and attitude in seasons of waiting. This process is important because it reveals what's inside of our hearts. It's certainly not easy to wait, but it can truly be transforming for us if we allow it to.
4- Waiting brings us closer to God and allows us to fully depend on Him.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."
When we are waiting on God for something, sometimes His answer is:
And sometimes its:
I have something better in mind for you. Just wait a little bit longer.
What are you waiting on God for today?
I want to encourage you today that God's got your back, He's got this. He's going to work it out. Not only that, but He's going to do beyond what you can imagine. That’s His Word.
We need to wait well. We need to worship while we wait. We need to remain thankful while we wait. We need to remain faithful in prayer while we wait. These are very important and key.
The Father is Waiting
We've been looking at different examples of waiting and why God sometimes allows us to wait in situations. There is a well-known story in the Bible that demonstrates the most important message about waiting: The Prodigal Son
Most of us know that story well and what a wonderful demonstration of the compassion and love a father has for his son.
This story is an amazing demonstration of God's love for us and as much as we are all waiting for something, in the middle of it all, God our Father is waiting for us. He is waiting to hear from us, for us to spend time with Him. For us to share His love with others.
The Father is waiting today...
The Father’s will is that none would perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). People out there need to hear about Jesus and He can use simple people like you and me, if we are willing and obedient.
Would you partner with us in prayer for those who have yet to hear about Jesus?
The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the fuel that powers it.
Would you pray for our missionaries as they wait on the Lord to return to their fields?
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!”
God bless you as you wait patiently on the Lord.
In this week’s blog post, we are considering the habit or discipline of learning. In past posts, we have considered Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship as it relates to both time and finances, fasting, silence/solitude, and journaling.
If you have not seen these posts yet, go ahead and click on the links to catch yourself up.
And remember that the primary motivation for these spiritual habits or disciplines is taken from Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, where he says, exercise or discipline yourself toward godliness. This applies to us just the same today and he makes it clear that, if we wish to be godly, it will take work, discipline, and exercise. Just as an athlete, musician, or artist must exercise disciplined practice to become more proficient at their chosen field, so a disciple must exercise disciplined practice in these activities as means’ of grace to become more proficient at being godly. That is to say, as we become more disciplined in the practice of these habits, more of God’s grace is available to us which will change us.
So what about learning?
An examination of the New Testament word disciple shows that it means to not only be a “follower” of Jesus but also a “learner”. Are you a disciple of Jesus? To follow Jesus and become more like Him, we must engage in the spiritual discipline of learning.
The Wise Person
According to the book of the Bible written specifically to give us practical wisdom, one of the characteristics of a wise man or woman is a desire for learning. We read in Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Wise and righteous people can never get enough wisdom or knowledge. Unteachable people or those who are prideful about their learning only expose how shallow they are. The truly wise are humble because they know they still have so much to learn. And according to this verse, wise and righteous people remain teachable. They can learn from anybody, regardless of age or background. Give one of them instruction and he will be still wiser, he will increase in learning. The biblically wise are always looking to learn.
In Proverbs 18:15 we read, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” A wise person not only acquires knowledge, but he or she also seeks it. Wise ones desire to learn and will discipline themselves to seek learning opportunities.
One other verse in Proverbs deserves a look. Proverbs 23:12 commands us, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.” No matter how much previous instruction you have received or how extensive your knowledge - especially about God, Christ, the Bible, and the Christian life - and regardless of how intelligent or slow you consider yourself, you still need to apply your heart and ears to learn, because you haven’t learned it all.
A strong yearning for learning characterizes all those who are truly wise.
The Great Commandment
Jesus said that part of God’s greatest commandment is, Love the Lord your God...with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). What God wants most from you is your love and one of the ways He wants you to show love and obedience to Him is by godly learning. God is glorified when we use the mind He made to learn of Him, His Word, His ways, and His world.
Sadly, many Christians do not associate learning with loving God. In fact, we live in a quite anti-intellectual age. That may sound strange in light of the infinite storehouse of information accessible through the Internet; the widespread availability and growth of online education; the almost daily, dazzling advances in technology; and the fact that there are more advanced academic degrees being awarded today than ever before. Perhaps it is precisely because of such things that people - including Christian people - are more averse to things intellectual. Smart kids may be unpopular just because they are smart. They’re dismissed as nerds and the social attention goes to the underachievers. Our culture seems to glorify the physical much more than the mental. Nobody sells posters of the top software engineers or the most accomplished carpenter., much less the leading theologians.
There may be an intellectualism that is wrong, but it is also wrong to be anti-intellectual. We should love God just as much with our mind as with our heart and soul and strength. How can it all fit together? RC Sproul wrote, “God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action...The more we know Him the more we can love Him. The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him. To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds. Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action.”
Unless we love God with a growing mind, we will be Christian versions of the Samaritans to whom Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know” (John 4:22).
A Requirement for Increased Godliness
The Christian life begins with learning - learning the gospel. Nobody is made right before the God about whom he knows nothing. Nobody is made right with God unless he or she learns about Him and His message to the world, a message of good news called the gospel. To know God, people must learn that there is a God (Hebrews 11:6), that they have broken His law (James 3:10, Romans 3:23), and that they need to be reconciled to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). They must learn that Jesus, God’s Son, came to accomplish that reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20) and that He did so through His sinless life and His death on the cross as a substitute for sinners (Romans 3:21-26). They must learn about His bodily resurrection and their need to repent of their sin and to believe in Jesus and what He has done (Acts 17:30). Because apart from people learning these things, how are they to believe in Him of whom they have not heard (Romans 10:14)?
This is essentially what the apostle Paul is talking about in Romans 12 when he says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Transformation of the heart and life - growth in godliness - involves a mental renewal that cannot happen without learning.
If you know little about godliness, you will grow little in godliness. To know it requires the Habit of Learning.
Learning is By Discipline, Not By Accident
As every dust bunny gets bigger the longer it rolls around underneath the bed, so every mind picks up at least a little more knowledge the longer it rolls around the earth. But we must not assume that we have learned true wisdom just by growing older. Job 32:9 says, “It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” In other words, age and experience by themselves don’t increase your spiritual maturity. Becoming like Jesus doesn’t happen incidentally or automatically with the passing of birthdays. Godliness, as in 1 Timothy tells us, requires a deliberate discipline.
Those who are not trying to learn will only get spiritual and biblical knowledge by accident or convenience. Occasionally they will hear a biblical fact or principle from someone else and profit from it. Once in a while, they may display a brief burst of interest in a subject. But this is not the way to godliness. The Habit of Learning transforms accidental learners into intentional learners.
Now, it is a whole lot easier to be an accidental learner or a convenience learner than an intentional learner. We are born that way. And much of the technological advances of the last few years has served to entrench this accidental/convenience learning. Watching TV or video is so much easier than choosing a good book, reading words, creating your own mental images, and relating them to your own life. Television decides for you what will be presented, speaks the words to you, shows you its own images, and tells you what impact it wants to have on your life. Compared to that, books often appear too demanding for the contemporary mind. Honestly, it takes discipline to become an intentional learner.
A Variety of Ways to Learn
There are indeed people who have genuine difficulty reading, so there are methods of learning for these people, methods that learners who do thrive on learning will enjoy also.
First, there is the option to listen to audiobooks. It’s so easy to listen and learn while getting ready for the day or while commuting, while driving around town or travelling long-distance, while exercising or working around the house. Much the same is true for audio or video recordings available on the Internet or through podcasts. Just make sure that you are listening to a reputable ministry, not just to someone whose speaking style you enjoy. If study guides are available, use them.
Another way to learn without reading is to have meaningful conversations with spiritually mature Christians. This is a natural part of the discipling process. Those who are more mature than ourselves have much to teach us about godliness and obedience to the commands of Christ.
While our attention is directed toward personal spiritual disciplines, we shouldn’t neglect the multiple opportunities for learning that are (hopefully) available to you through interpersonal spiritual disciplines in your local church. It is understood that COVID-19 restrictions have curtailed the face-to-face sort of learning opportunities at your church but these restrictions should be removed in time. If this post has triggered you to further discipline yourself in intentional learning, be sure to speak to your pastor about the role your church could play in helping you learn for the purpose of godliness.
There you have it; learning as a discipline is a key component to increasing in godliness.
Remember that learning has a goal. The goal is Christlikeness. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me”. There is a false or superficial knowledge that puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1), but godly learning leads to godly living. John Milton, who wrote the poem Paradise Lost, wrote, “The end of learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love Him and to imitate Him.” Let’s pray that God would give us an unquenchable desire for the knowledge that leads us to love Him more and that makes us more like Jesus Christ.
Will you develop the habit of learning?
How will you start?
When will you start?