We continue our reading of Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life together this week by turning our time and attention to the topic of Learning. If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, you can read about it here.
Last week, we discussed Journaling. In that post, we discovered that meditating on Scripture unlocks yet another door to experiencing more of God. As we dwell on His Word our affections are stirred towards worship.
Simply walking through the motions won’t help you grow in godliness. Engaging in the Spiritual Disciplines because they get you more of Jesus helps you become more like Him. Keep this in mind each week as you study and learn.
Twelve chapters in, we turn our attention to gaze more closely upon a Discipline we’ve been engaging in throughout this series, learning. As we have read the first eleven chapters of Whitney’s book on the Spiritual Disciplines, we have discovered many things with the potential to transform our walks with Christ. In short, we’ve been learning about how to grow in godliness.
“One of the characteristics of a wise man or woman,” Whitney said, “is a desire for learning.” They know they can’t learn too much, there is always more to be understood and a deeper ocean of truth in which to swim. You’ve at least shown a leaning in this direction by reading along with me these last many weeks. Way to go.
“A wise person,” Whitney said, “not only ‘acquires’ knowledge, he or she ‘seeks’ it. Wise ones desire to learn and will discipline themselves to seek opportunities for learning.” There are a hundred different ways the Christian can discipline themselves to towards the end of learning. Whitney touched on at least six in this chapter:
1. Listening to recorded books
3. Study Guides
5. Classes and Groups
6. Reading Good Books
“Christians,” Whitney said, “must realize that just as a fire cannot blaze without fuel, so burning hearts are not kindled by brainless heads.” What we do in the area of learning has big ramifications. If we neglect our on going education and cease to hunger to know God more, it won’t be long until our hearts grow cold. Knowledge fuels devotion. You can’t be devoted to a God and His purposes if you don’t know much about either.
“God has made us,” R.C. Sproul said, “with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action...The more we know Him the more we are able to love Him. The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him. To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds. Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action.”
Our efforts in reading Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life have been that we might discover how each of the Disciplines help us grow in godliness. This knowledge is meant to drive us forward into action. Learning and action are supposed to be linked activities. Acquiring more knowledge of things we’re never going to do doesn’t make us more like Jesus, it makes us more like the Pharisees.
“No one grows into Christlikeness without learning about it—what Christlikeness looks like, how they should cultivate it, why it’s necessary, where it leads, and more.” Learning may be where things begin, it just can’t be where they end.
While some are have a hard time disciplining themselves for the purpose of Christlike learning, that’s not my problem. Mine tends to rest on the other side of that equation. I am obsessed with learning. I read as many books as I can get my hand on, listen to dozens of podcasts each week, and chew through blogs like a beaver does wood. I also surround myself with godly men and ask them questions on a regular basis. In short, I love to learn.
Here is a smattering of books, blogs, podcasts and more that I’ve found helpful:
Books: Greg Koukl, Tactics; Randy Alcorn, If God is Good; John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress; Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage; Randy Alcorn, Heaven; Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language; Randy Alcorn, hand in Hand; Arthur Bennett, Valley of Vision; The Story of Reality, Greg Koukl
I mentioned that learning wasn’t my issue earlier, but I didn’t explicitly define where this chapter hit me. I’d like to do that now if I may. I have the tendency to store up knowledge like The Rich Young Ruler stored grain, meaning that I find comfort and joy in the pursuit of knowing and learning more, but as you remember from Christ’s parable things didn’t end well for him. Just as he was meant to leverage his wealth and material blessings for the purposes of God and the good of others, I am to do the same with what I learn.
I do this well on the blog. I make it a regular habit to share the things impacting my heart, life and brain with you here, but I don’t always do so in real life conversations with real people. Too often I am content to listen and ask questions, without taking the next step to follow up by sharing something I’ve recently learned either from or about God’s Word. I’m seeking to grow and do better at speaking up in those moments, instead of allowing fear or propriety get in the way.
One final thought on the topic of godly learning is this, our children are watching and will pick up the habits and attitudes we display. “The reason young people are not intentional learners,” Whitney said, “is because their parents aren’t.” This hit me with the force of an atomic bomb several months back, as Hannah and I brought our son home from the hospital. That little boy will be watching me as he grows up. The stakes for how I engage in the Spiritual Disciplines couldn’t therefore be any higher.
I must tend to my daily habits, routines and attitudes about the things of God, if my prayer for Hudson is that The Lord would capture his heart at a young age. The example I set before Hudson will be the primary vehicle The Lord uses to teach my son about Himself during Hudson’s early years.
We will complete with the final chapter (chapter twelve) of the book next Sunday. We may be nearing the end of reading Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life together, but it’s not too late for you to jump in.
I’d like to hear what stood out to you this week. Please feel free to post your reflections, and thoughts in the comment section below.