Knowledge - Your Attitude and Application Determines Results
I am very pleased to see everybody that is gathered here this evening. I want to extend a particular welcome to the new students who are beginning their formal educational journey with us. In the first week of each new semester I always want to give all who are gathered something worthwhile, from the Lord, that will serve you and help you as you go through the next sixteen weeks of formal instruction. Turn with me in your King James Bibles to Proverbs chapter 12, where we will look at a single verse of Scripture, that I believe was written by King Solomon himself:
"Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish." (Proverbs 12:1)
One of the things I want you to understand before you go out of this service is there is a great difference between loving instruction and enduring instruction. You will notice that the subject of the statement is those that love instruction, these are the people that love knowledge. The love of instruction is born out of the desire for the information instruction will bring you. Knowledge! Receiving instruction is not a passive endeavor. It requires the concentration of one's mind through the use of the eyes and ears. Anytime a person quits passively receiving what is coming their way and starts to focus their senses and work to keep them focused, they are involved in a labor that is not always easy to maintain. You might find this hard to believe but there are some people in this world that have nothing wrong with them either physically or mentally who find it impossible to discipline themselves sufficiently to receive instruction and gain knowledge in a structured system that works within the parameters of time.
Sometimes people endure instruction because they have to go through some period of education to gain an objective. If you are interested in what you are doing, receiving instruction becomes easier and if you are excited about what you are learning receiving instruction can even become joyful. But there are factors that can enter in that can rob people of their joy in the process so they start simply enduring instruction and sometimes even fall by the wayside. Teachers can do things to make instruction more interesting, but the love of instruction has to be born in the breast and attitudes of the student out of the things that motivate them.
I am going to make a confession to you. For me, much of the first twelve years of formal schooling was an endurance of instruction, and now I am going to help you understand why. Suffice it to say people have to get that first twelve years of education in no matter how they feel about it. It is necessary to gain the objective of a diploma that allows you to get on with your life. Like a friend of mine once said. He knew he was unhappy in school even though he learned a lot. But how much you are capable of learning and will ultimately retain is determined in great part by how much you enjoy the process of receiving instruction. In other words the more you enjoy it, the more you are capable of learning. Quite frankly when people are enduring and just getting by a lot of what they know is in short term memory and is forgotten about as soon as the test on it is over.
There can be a lot of reasons for instruction becoming a matter of endurance. For instance my Latin teacher made the study onerous by her attitude, it is not useful to ridicule students who are trying and having problems. Some will even quit trying and soon have even more problems. When the classroom environment is not a happy one, even those who keep trying feel discouraged and dread the next class session. Latin was not my only problem. English was difficult because of the way material was presented. (Some would say I have not yet quite grasped the English language.) The point I am trying to make is that difficulties can diminish attitude and as this is more pronounced in its effect the less one is committed to the undertaking in the first place. That is one of the reasons I so enjoy teaching in the seminary. People who come here have a commitment to what they have come to learn before they ever walk into the classroom. The problems I have mentioned in my own experience were not the only ones I experienced, but I think they might represent some of the kinds of things you who are listening to me can identify with..
When I got into college and began to take various courses at technical schools my attitude changed and instruction became more a thing to love instead of endure. You see, suddenly I had a commitment to the things I was trying to learn. I enjoyed learning those things I was pursuing because of how I would put them to use. Many people have told me that their experience of college was a transforming one, so I find I am not alone in what I am speaking of. People find themselves loving the knowledge that they are acquiring because their use of that knowledge is becoming more directed. People like me have an excitement and anticipation of the class hour and an enjoyment of the textbook as well as the research we do along the way.I find that I even have that excitement in preparing to teach a course. It does not matter whether it is a new course or one I have taught a number of times, I love to learn about the subjects in the seminary and incorporate what I learn into what I teach students. If you were to take a course from me and then come back four years later and take it again, you would find that the course has changed, and I hope been enriched by what I have learned on the subject during the time in between.
A few years ago when we built on to the church half of the construction consisted of educational space. We had not even finished getting the new library going before I hung I sign over the entrance to that area that said, "No teacher has taught until the student has learned." A teacher can inspire people to learn and present material in such a way to make it interesting. But one thing the teacher cannot control is the motivation for learning, that is, the purpose the student intends to apply what they have learned to. This brings me to the final point.
Scripture says that the person who hates reproof is brutish, or animal like. Early in my seminary experience I was exposed to a Latin phrase that translated "apply yourself to the whole text; apply the whole text to yourself." This brought the first application of knowledge down to its fundamental point, that the knowledge we gain be used to make us better people. When it comes to the Word of God, what we learn should be used to first make us more conformed to the image of Christ so that He is reflected in us. People can love instruction and love the knowledge they gain for the wrong reasons. They can learn things with no desire to apply it to their own lives and thus be better able to glorify God. This is why educated people can still be brutes.
I think you understand now that I consider any experience of education to be most worthwhile if you use it in some way to make you a better person, that is apply it to your life. But when it comes to you seminary experience, where you are supposedly learning to better equip yourselves to serve the Lord, what you learn must first be applied to your own life before you can use it to help others. The life that is not affected or changed by either studying the Scriptures or studying things related to the Scriptures or the Gospel of Jesus Christ will ultimately degenerate back toward what it was before the Lord Jesus gor hold of it in salvation. I have seen this happen a few times and can testify that the Scripture is proven that the person who despises reproof is brutish.
This semester apply yourselves to the text and the things you learn apply to yourself. Believe me when I say that you will find it easier sharing what you learn with others when your life reflects the principles you have learned and taught.