When it comes to learning and the Christian life, there can be two extremes. On the one hand, some can quote every book in the Bible and answer any question that you might have, but it appears that they have no love for the Lord. On the other hand, some have a ton of passion for Jesus but couldn’t tell you a thing about him and don’t see the problem.
I think that most of us would find it hard to disagree with the idea that the Christian life involves learning. One definition of a disciple is “learner.” In the Bible, there is an account of Jesus’ parents losing Jesus. ” After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” If Jesus is the example of the perfect human, we follow his example by being students of the word.
The Bible Calls Us to Learn
Wisdom in Learning
Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Those who are wise have a desire to know more. There is nothing wise about thinking that we have arrived. A really wise person can learn from many different people. I have found this true in my own life; some of the wisest people I have met were anxious to learn from me! This seemed weird; I would think to myself, “what do I have to give?” Yet they were eager to learn and grow even from someone much less wise and knowledgeable than themselves.
Proverbs 10:14 touches on this “The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.” The wisest people often are the most eager to listen before they speak, to learn before trying to instruct. Perhaps you are quick to talk and slow to listen and learn. Scripture shows us the wisdom of listening and learning.
Command to Learn
Not only is learning a wise thing for Christians to do, but the book of Proverbs also commands it. Proverbs 23:12 says, ” Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
The Task of Church Leaders
Also, God instructs his under-shepherds to teach others. We see this in Matthew 28:20, 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9; and Hebrews 13:7. Teaching is a significant task of the church. It is not the only task, but it is an important one for the church. This is the major difference between the offices of deacon and pastor/elder in Scripture. Teaching’s importance forced the church in Acts to set up different ministry structures so that the apostles could keep it primary.
Learning and Love Are Connected
We talked about some having head knowledge but no love and others not desiring to learn. Related to this, we pit love against knowledge. I think this is unfair. While love implies more than knowledge, it is never less.
We Need to Know What We Love
There was a guy in my dorm in college that started dating a girl in Ashley’s dorm. They were in a relationship for a little bit until she gave him the boot. The reason? He was in love with the idea of a wife for his future ministry, not in love with the girl herself. It became obvious that to him, it was more “I love the thought of a wife” than “I love you for you.”
I am sure that you are familiar with this foolish approach to relationships. I teach students, and high schoolers always know a couple who are “dating” because of the status of being in a relationship with someone, anyone, then being single. It is undeniable that they don’t really care for the other person, but only themselves.
It is ingrained in each of us that to love something or someone we must have knowledge. To use another example, if someone says, “I love Taco Bell,” and you ask “when is the last time they were there,” you would expect an answer! If they say they have never been there, you would think, “what do you love about it then?”
There is a danger for us as Christians to love the idea of God and not God himself. To love God more deeply, we must know him more fully. These two go hand in hand.
What We Love We Want to Know
In the same way, when we do love someone or something, we want to know more about it. This is true even in hobbies. When I was a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, I had a student that could spot a fake pair of shoes from across a room. He was into shoes and would take hours-long trips to Philly just to visit shoe stores. He followed a ton of sneakerhead accounts on Instagram. That was his thing, and he knew it well. Researching different shoes and the differences wasn’t work; it gave him energy, and he loved to do it because he loved shoes. Many of us have similar experiences with our hobbies and passions in life.
This is my desire for you, that your love for God fuels a deeper desire to know Him and grow in your love and knowledge of Him. Read Psalm 119 to get a picture of what this looks like!
The Greatest Commandment Keeps Love and Knowledge Together
We cannot disconnect love and knowledge. In fact, in the greatest commandment, Jesus says that we are to love the Lord with all our mind. Using our minds is a way to love God; being filled with the knowledge of God is a way to love him. Knowing Him better is not only a loving act but produces more love.
What About You?
How are you stirring your love for God in learning? Next post, I will discuss a couple of ways that we can learn and grow as Christians.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 2:46–47.