Having taught the Bible to kids and adults, having tutored students in math and physics, and having coached baseball, chess, and soccer, I love a student or player who is teachable. What is frustrating beyond all comprehension is a student or player who is not. I can only imagine what several of my teachers thought of me who I “wrote off” back in junior high and high school. Because back then, if I decided you didn’t know your stuff, I didn’t listen to anything you said. This was the completely wrong approach to take, but that was the way I was. Unfortunately, I know I get this way sometimes with God. Only I’m not listening because He has shown Himself to be deficient in any way. God certainly knows His stuff. He knows everyone’s stuff. But I get that way either because He is saying something I don’t want to hear or because of some sin in my life I’m not listening to Him. Whatever the reason, it’s not where I should ever be. But the truth is, I have found myself there. And that reminds me of the following verses:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. – Hebrews 5:12-14, NASB
How far should we be when it comes to knowing God and knowing His Word? I wonder if He sometimes look at us and says, “You ought to be a teacher but right now I need to send you back to remedial Bible basics!” That’s what the writer of Hebrews is saying to his audience. Yes, that’s a harsh comment. There’s no getting around it. But if it’s true of us and if we’re supposed to be followers of Christ, it’s the truth we need to hear. Because that means we have to do something about the situation we have put ourselves in. We have made ourselves unteachable. It may be only temporary, but it’s still a problem.
“Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
“Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD.
– Proverbs 1:23-29, NASB
God offers to teach us. He says He will pour out His spirit upon us. He will make His words known to us. If we’re willing to listen and learn, He’s willing to teach. However, He also warns those who refuse to be taught. Those folks are going to run into trouble, whether in this life or the next. And when they do, God is not going to suddenly bail them out with the wisdom they need. They chose not to listen. And if God bailed them out, they’d likely stop listening again. We see it with kids all the time. They get in trouble, they promise not to do it any more, and at some point in the future, they forget about said promise and are back to doing the same old thing. Actually, we see this in adults, too, don’t we? Even ourselves, if we truly examine our lives with a critical eye.
As God’s people, we need to be teachable by Him. We must be ready and eager to listen to His instruction, to pursue His knowledge, to grow in His wisdom. He has promised to make His words known to us. That’s a promise we can latch on to and hold tight. But with that promise comes an obligation, a requirement, on our side. We must be teachable people. As we move into this new year, that’s an aspect of our lives we need to inspect. Are we open to God and His instruction? If not, are we willing and desiring to be different than we are? If we can answer either of those questions with a yes, there’s the potential for spiritual growth and personal revival in our own lives. And shouldn’t that be what we’re looking for in the coming year?