When teaching others, I have found that it is all too easy to get into a rut of thinking that everything that is said from the front of the classroom is automatically heard, processed, and retained for the good of the student. It’s comfortable to just keep talking, and tell myself that the students are soaking up the knowledge. After all, if there are no questions from the audience, there’s no risk that I’ll be stumped by something I can’t answer. Similarly, a lack of interruptions means that the lesson will more likely finish on time.
Learning is not always guaranteed, though. Even the best teachers (i.e., those far better than me!) can fail to connect with students. Some students are reluctant to speak up and ask questions, instead choosing to sit politely even as they fall further behind. Each student has a particular style of learning, combined with a unique background of knowledge and experience, creating a point of view from which they view each topic.
Jesus was a great teacher (in addition to being the Son of God). He could probably have looked into the hearts of His disciples, to see if they were correctly interpreting His instruction, and retaining the important lessons. Still, in at least one case, Jesus asked this:
Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”
Matthew 13:51 NLT
As we learn more about God, the first step is definitely to take in His Word. We should spend time reading the Bible, and listening to others expound on their study of it. It’s impossible to understand something without first hearing or reading about it, or otherwise experiencing it. Anyone – whether a follower of God or not – who wants to learn more about God must start by accumulating information.
But, the presence of information alone is not knowledge. Without some effort put into learning, facts can just bounce off of our consciousness, leaving us no wiser than we were before. I might listen to a lawyer (an expert in a topic I don’t know much about) and hear the words, but if I don’t understand them, they are just nice-sounding phrases.
So, when you read your Bible, take some time to think about it. Ask yourself if you understand it. If not, that’s ok: there are portions of the Bible that can be initially complicated, confusing, or controversial.
But don’t give up. Ask God questions about what His word means. Tell Him that you want to actually learn – and not just read words. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance within your heart. Study what others have said or written about a passage.
We read and listen to what others say about the Bible not so that we can collect more opinions (or change what the Bible says), but because scholars have invested time into research of larger portions of the Bible – as well as history, archaeology, culture, and linguistics. They have spent the time to understand the larger picture, and can distill those details into new observations for us to consider. Still, we cannot accept anything about God’s Word that contradicts God’s Word.
In the same way, when listening to someone talk about God’s Word, don’t just sit through it, or let their message serve as background noise while you surf on your smartphone. Take the time to learn. Consider if their statements reveal that you need to change something in your own life. Ponder whether you should start to take action, as you realize that what you have learned about the truth compels you to do something about it.
But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
James 1:25 NLT
Similarly, because of the importance of understanding the truth about God, it is unwise to just take everything that is said – even by a respected pastor – without considering its accuracy. Does what you are learning match up with what else you know about God? Does it fit with what the Bible says? Or, did the speaker make a mistake – intentionally or accidentally? If so, don’t be an audience member who gets pulled along in the wrong direction. Mentally check each statement against what you know of God’s Word (which you are hopefully investing in learning more of, daily) and don’t be swept into falsehood.
So, “Do you get it?” If not, let me – or another trusted follow of Jesus – know about it, and we can work through your questions, together with God’s leading.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
8 thoughts on “Do You Get It?”
Another instance that perhaps shows some frustration of Jesus in His teaching efforts with His disciples is in Matthew 15:16 “’Are you still so dull?’ Jesus asked them.” This is also found in Mark 7:18.
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I suspect that He could have asked me the same things at different times in my life. The learning process is definitely an ongoing process, but I hope to be a good student.
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Sometimes, in the simplest of truths (anyone can understand), there are profound depths and layers to be discovered as we learn and our understanding grows. Maybe the beginning of understanding truth is kind of like the little iceberg part above water (like “God Loves You”).
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I think that’s probably right: It seems that our comprehension of God’s message starts small, and just keeps growing. I suspect that He knows just how much we can absorb at once. Due to His greatness, we may continue to learn throughout eternity. Thank you for your comment!
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Yes God’s timing is usually not on the same calender as mine. I am still learning patience. That is one of my character defects.
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Another well thought out message! Love the wisdom of teaching.
So many times when I am delivering a message I ask myself. “Who will relate to this?”
It is so difficult to know. I know that in the ministry I currently serve in (#CelebrateRecovery) I relate to people who have the same struggles that I have been through in my life. But, I am surprised by how many people come yo fyi me and say, “I could totally relate to what you shared today because…”
Like you said we all have different ways of processing information. Our upbringing, education, trials, successes, and our personal relationship with the Lord. This is how our Brian learns to prices information. And not two of us are the same.
So I have learned, “don’t think to much about the message you are delivering, #GodHasThis “.
Your mouth is His vehicle to reach those who are searching for Him.
Thank you again for your inspired messages. You’re a rockstar for God!
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Thank you for your kind words. They are inspiring and a great reminder that we are all serving God’s purposes, even if we must sometimes let Him make the connections between our work and others’ blessings. To God be the glory!