The "L" Word - J.Northrop

      One of the great lessons of the New Testament is Christianity is a taught religion. People were converted in the book of Acts because children of God went and taught them what they needed to do in order to be saved. Philip had to go and teach the eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. Saul had to be taught by Ananias what he needed to do in the next chapter. Never do we find someone being converted to the gospel through some supernatural means or an overtaking of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is something which is taught and learned.
            Part of the growing process is for Christians to continue to learn the principles and precepts God would have them to know. Paul returned to the congregations he had helped to establish wanting them to continue to grow (Acts 14:22). Much of human growth and development is about what a person can learn through study and personal experience. There are things which have to be initially learned, relearned, and perhaps even reinforced in the individual. There are even some things which are indeed learned even when people might try to persuade otherwise. Biblically, there are several things which are learned and must continue to be learned if Christians are going to live acceptably before God. This article will notice a few things which are learned. All of them will begin with the letter “L.”
            First, a child of God must learn to learn. This might seem somewhat odd at first glance, but a deeper look reveals that a person must learn to learn. The key passage under consideration for this point is Acts 17:11 which reads, “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” It is so easy for people to trust in their religious leaders. So many will justify their actions by making statements such as, “well, my preacher says…” or, “I read a book that states….” Such justifications are really no justifications at all. Each person will give an account of their own deeds done in the body (Romans 14:12). God expects His people to stand on their own faith and to individually know what they know to be true and right. Psalm 25:4 declares, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.” A Christian must learn to learn.
            One of the ways in which Christians learn to learn is by learning to listen. Jeremiah 22:29 says, “O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the Lord!” The emphasis of the passage is to listen to the Lord. There is a difference between hearing something and actually listening to what is being said. Some will hear the noise in the background and even be able to recite what has been said to them, but they have not really listened to what has been said. Jesus used the phrase, “Take heed” several times indicating what He was about to say was very, very important (Matthew 6:1, 16:6, 18:10; 24:4). In Mark 4:3, Jesus got the attention of the people by simply saying, “Listen!” Today, people need to stop and listen to what God is telling them through His word. It is said that many people will hear what God says and respond with such phrases as, “Well, I understand what the Bible says but…” or, “I do not want to hear what the Bible says about….” The latter of these two phrases is at least honest but will certainly not get anyone into Heaven’s gates. People need to learn to listen to what God says and obey it (James 1:22).
            Next, Christians need to learn to love. This is one of the items which many people will say cannot be learned. They will say love is a feeling. While certain kinds of love are felt, biblical love is learned. This is why the Bible commands love in Matthew 22:37-40. As seen in these passages, first Christians are to learn to love God. God explains what Christians need to do in order to love Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). God, through Paul, commanded husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33). Older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands (Titus 2:4). Interestingly, Jesus commanded Christians to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35). The natural inclination of men is to hate their enemies but Jesus commands His followers to love them. This only emphasizes the fact that biblical love is something which is learned. A godly person will learn to love God and their fellow man.
            Another thing Christians will learn is how to laugh. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” There are certainly times when it is inappropriate to laugh. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 explains there is a time for all the different emotions which are experienced by mankind. Some would argue Christianity is far too serious of a matter to be laughing about it. However, it needs to be understood that humor and laughter are both parts of God’s creation. He created man with the ability to laugh. The proverbs writer explains what modern medicine has only learned relatively recently. God knew it well before the medical field. Laughter is good for an individual. The opposite is also true, as the writer explains. A broken spirit can lead an individual to depression and other emotions which are not good for the individual. Therefore, there is a time when it is appropriate to laugh. Humor certainly has a place in life. Christians need to learn to laugh.
            When the child of God learns to learn what God would have them to know, learns to listen to the word of God, learns to love as God wants them to love, and learns to laugh in the way God would deeply appropriate, then the child of God can live. In fact, the child of God can live in a great way. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). John said, “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1John 1:4). Finally, Paul said Jesus, “ able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…” (Ephesians 3:20). God does not just want His children to walk through life but He wants them to live and live in a great way. When His children learn the things He wants them to know, they can have a great life which is full of joy. They learn to live.
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