The Bible encourages us to be teachable unto to things of God. A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1). Do you listen to God our father’s instructions as given in the Bible? Perhaps a reminder of the meaning of the word ‘teachable’ would be beneficial.Teach·able: 1 a : capable of being taught b : apt and willing to learn 2 : favorable to teaching (reference: Merriam-webster dictionary)
Let me first give you an example of what it means to be unteachable. Here we go with a conversation about a guy Adam inviting to his friend Jacob to a teaching on prophecy:
Adam: “Jacob, there’s a teaching on prophecy about the end times by so and so preachers in church next weekend. They are teaching about how to avoid the various deceptions and also they’re giving a warning of bloodshed during the great tribulation.”
Jacob: “Adam, please don’t talk negative things. I don’t want to know evil.”
Adam: “No it’s not. I just want you to benefit from what is mentioned in the Bible. That’s all I want my friend.”
Jacob: “I hate bloodshed and deception. I don’t want anything to do with it”
Adam: “This teaching doesn’t teach you sin by lying or killing. Now to kindly explain; it could help you keep your faith by…”
Jacob: “Hey wait! I always keep my faith. Are you accusing me of losing my faith?”
Adam: “No please. That’s not what I meant…”
Jacob: “Get away from me. Why did you talk about deception and bloodshed?”
Adam: “With all due respect I want to tell you the importance of such teachings but you are not letting me finish what I want to say.”
Adam: “Ok then, leave it. If you don’t want to hear me then I can’t expect you to listen to that preacher either.”
Jacob: “You are judging me.”
Adam: “Excuse me, you were first to judge when you said that I’m talking negative.”
Jacob: “Just stop talking negative!”
Adam: “Fine, keep to your ignorance and good luck with that!”
Now I don’t want to focus on how polite Adam should have been. Nowadays there is too much emphasis on being polite rather than being right. There’s a place for empathy but you should realize some people are too engrossed in themselves. So, I’m talking about how Jacob deliberately was avoiding going to the teaching on prophecy. He was only bothered about himself and kept interrupting whenever an explanation was offered. That is a fine example of being unteachable.
Don’t get me wrong but the scope of this post is not limited to only learning prophecy. I stand for all the topics and teachings of the Bible which we are to learn.
There are some people in the church who are quite cosy in their ignorance of the word of God. They are aware of certain Bible verses and they do try to understand these verses. However due to their own reasons, they avoid getting taught on every Bible topic.
For them peace, love and miracles are the only things to hear. Now try teaching them about repentance, avoiding false prophets, exposing pedophiles etc and they will first get uneasy and later angry. Most will try to exit the place where such topics are spoken but some will be so outraged that they will be very vocal in their dissent. They may say, ‘You have said this but as per my experience we shouldn’t be talking about it’ or may say ‘I don’t know about this topic and I don’t want to know’.
So you ask them where in the Bible it says we shouldn’t get this topics taught and they get cornered. As they don’t read the Bible that well, they will not know even if there was a Bible verse prohibiting so and so teaching. Such is the depth of their ‘experience’. There are verses in the Bible that in fact tell us what things not to learn. Here’s one of them; But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20 ESV). I will also mention another one; But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them–depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you (Revelation 2:24 NLT).
For such people their experiences are greater teachers than anyone else. They will try to avoid any teaching that is not sugar-coated or doesn’t fit their religious theology. Obsession with sugar-coated teachings reminds me of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder though the former is more about deliberate choices rather than the latter’s medical leanings.
To make this clear let’s go through another example; you see a bridge on the verge of collapsing any second and everyone is avoiding that bridge. Now a person is trying to cross it. You say, ‘Hey, the bridge is about to collapse any moment so don’t cross it’. And that person replies ‘Why should I listen? You didn’t say ‘please’ nor ‘kindly’. How dare you address me as ‘Hey’?’ You realize that empathy will help in such a case and so you then say, ‘Excuse me but since I don’t know your name I used the word ‘Hey’ and as it’s a matter of life and death I had decided to cut down on the pleasantries. So now will you kindly please avoid this bridge as its way to dangerous’. Then the person replies saying ‘O good. I shall surely not cross this bridge. Thanks for telling me in a way I am accustomed to understand.’ This may seem absurd in the world but in Church there are some Christians who behave just the same as the person trying to cross the dangerous bridge. Give them all warnings with related verses but they won’t even consider unless it’s in terms of their liking.
You see how people are more concerned about the sugar-coating rather than the actual topic of the words spoken. Such people are prone to deception unless they start checking facts before politeness. Because these people have an obsession that until and unless the words are not sugared to their liking they won’t even consider. The Evil One knows this too well. He therefore will make the temptation to sin look very pleasant as per that persons notions of politeness who only partly depends on God’s word to know what is true from false. As long as his inducement to sin seems pleasant to the eye (or mind) the gullible person will consume the product with great relish.
Not just the Devil, even selfish marketing people use the same trick of fake empathy. They speak lies so kindly and politely even if they don’t mean it. And thus sell products like insurance, weird oils, weight loss powders etc to people who don’t even need them. (Food for thought)
It’s time to start being teachable in the truest sense. It’s not about accepting any teaching for the sake of accepting. Rather we learn things because they are right in the eyes of God and help us and our brothers and sisters in Christ to admonish them of dangers, also to love, respect and bless one another for the glory of God.
Here a few Bible verses about being teachable:
- And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)
- And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. (1 Samuel 15:1)
- Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9)
- Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored. (Proverbs 13:18)
- And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14)