All praise and glory to God for all the elders who share their wisdom and experience for building up the members of the church!
And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
One must be open to all wisdom from those who are your elders. They are those who have walked the walk of faith in Christ for many a years. They have faced challenges and have encountered various temptations and yet stand stall in the grace of Christ. These are champions of the Christian faith and not wimps that I’m talking about.
You must be humble enough to ignore their lack of certain skills that you might possess. Like you are well versed with computer skills, can move quickly, play the guitar, ride a sailboat and have a great collection of Christian teachings. Yet, they might have things you still need to learn from, like ministering to children, casting out demons, surviving blizzards, refuting heresies etc. Christianity is never about perfect people, there are no perfect people who were perfect all the time but there is the Lord whom we trust in and he is eternally perfect. With that said, we are to help build up each other in Christ instead of being proud of our achievements.
There are certain ministries such as counseling, healing and deliverance where you need to learn from those who are experienced in the field. So do give a listening ear to those who are veterans in those ministries. You might not have to like everything that they say as you have the right to discern instead of taking things at face value. Just take a note of what they said and verify if that is consistent with the Bible or not. You can then accordingly apply their wisdom to your ways of ministry, no matter how small or big it is.
Usually elders have a thing which can be the deciding factor passing on their knowledge to you. One word; respect. If you don’t respect them they won’t be in the mood to teach you. Simple enough. Instead you might get a good old-fashioned rebuking. That’s how it goes. Don’t make fun of them. The aging process might have gone down on them but one must have patience in such matters. The more you respect them by being polite the better it is for you.
Like I mentioned earlier, you are to learn from those elders who are not wimps of the faith. Be eager to learn from those walk the talk of the Christian faith. This would mean taking due diligence in deciding who is worth learning from. Pray to the Holy Spirit that you get the right people and that if any wrong person comes then you are able to say no to their incorrect logic.
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)
There are many Christians who are missing on the rest which comes from God. Due to which they are restless. God loves them but they are unable to receive the love of God because they have closed their hearts to Jesus due to their unbelief. Instead these love the deceitfulness of the world. They are like functional atheists. Though they profess the name of Christ on their lips their hearts do not put in even an ounce of faith in Christ. They value pleasures of the world but ignore the joy of the Lord. They choose the earthly, sensual and demonic by choosing pride and being arrogant towards the Gospel in their thoughts, words and deeds.
Instead of simply trusting the Lord Jesus who is the high priest of our confession they turn towards the vanities of life. Moses was a great prophet of the Lord God and yet he was humble towards God. He totally depended on the faithfulness of God when he had to prophecy for the liberation of the Jews. Indeed great miracles came through Moses and at a great cost to Pharaoh because that Egyptian king hardened himself towards the commands of God. Pharaoh’s stubbornness earned him the wrath of God.
Jesus is without a doubt greater that Moses. If the people couldn’t escape judgement due to Moses, do they even stand a chance if they challenge Jesus the Son of the Living God? No chance in heaven nor on earth!
When the Holy Spirit speaks you better listen. But when the Holy Spirit speaks the same thing over and over again, you ought to make sure that you listen even more fully and that too without any falsehood.
Your calling is to enter into God’s rest. God wants to give it to you freely without any need of you to earn it. You receive it by faith in Jesus. God’s will is that you don’t miss out on it. No wonder the Holy Spirit expresses his desire repeatedly that you do not harden your heart lest you do not enter in God’s rest due to your unbelief. Happy are those who believe on the Lord Jesus in all sincerity for truly they will enter into God’s rest!
Let’s read Hebrews 3:1-19 which says:
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.