I like learning. Although school was not always ‘fun’, it was usually exciting to be learning new things. And that learning doesn’t start or stop with school. A simple walk with the dog in the morning can bring new insights and challenges. Learning means having an open enough mind to see new things and consider them, and a critical enough mind to question what is true or right or worthwhile.
It is possible to learn from all sorts of situations and all sorts of people. One of my favorite texts is in 1 Thessalonians where we are encouraged to test teaching and hold on to the good. I haven’t yet met a teacher with whom I agree on everything or whom I believe has everything right. But I am willing to listen, to sift through the information, and to hold on to what is good.
This month I had the opportunity once again to attend ABSS – the Advanced Bible Study Series. This week of study is organized by my colleague Paul Brazle in Germany and is attended by brothers and sisters from all over Europe. I enjoy the challenging lessons as well as the good conversations (during and after playing basketball) and singing. And I was able to hold on to some good lessons.
The other side of the learning coin is also found in scripture – and it is also one of my favorite thoughts: remember to share with the teacher what you have learned (Galatians 6:6). I remember a young boy showing me very earnestly how to tie my shoe – he had recently learned and wanted to make sure I knew how to achieve this very important task.
That is the beauty of learning – it is exciting. We can’t hold it in. We want to share it with everyone. Sometimes we hear to an inner voice saying, “This is nothing special. Everyone already knows this.” Don’t listen to that voice. Share what you have learned. Be excited. And for those who are listening – just as I was with the young boy teaching me to tie my shoe – listen attentively and learn. Be excited with the learner.
In the Dutch version of the song ‘Freely, freely give” we sing: “Pass it on, pass it on – whatever you now have. Pass on whatever you now know.” Whatever it is you know now (you will learn more as you go), pass it on. Whatever you have now (of course you are not a millionaire and cannot help many), pass it on. God wants to use us now, wherever we are.
In this coming year I am looking forward to mentoring a brother in Haarlem. I pray that God will use me to help him learn, and I know that I too will learn as we struggle together through the things God wants to teach us.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22