What do you do when you hear the preacher make a point from the text that you’ve heard before? Do you shut down the receptors and then begin thinking about something else, like a witty one-liner you can post as your status update on Facebook? Or maybe you don’t stop listening altogether, but you listen enough to recognize if the preacher says something new… just in case.
You may do this with your personal time in God’s Word as well – when you get to a text you’ve read a dozen times, you breeze through it to another section that is less familiar. I do this, and it bothers me. It bothers me because I think this neglect stems from a certain lie we are allowing our hearts to believe. The lie: more knowledge means more growth.
We think that discipleship means learning more, and so if we’ve already been taught a certain truth, we’ve been “discipled” in that area of our lives. This might work if we were automaton robots who factored in every piece of information we encountered so that new knowledge always produced a corresponding action. But, alas, we are not. Because we possess the Holy Spirit and yet still have sinful hearts, we have the capacity to receive knowledge and use it to obey or receive knowledge and suppress it. For us, more knowledge does not always mean more growth. Speaking of their failure to grow in Christ, the author of Hebrews wrote to that church, “… by this time you ought to be teachers”. They had not been responding to the truth with trust and submission, so the author goes on to say, “… you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God” (5:12). Notice the word “again”. They needed to be re-taught what they had already learned because they had not responded to it the way God wanted them to.
So, next time you are tempted to stop listening to the preacher or skip ahead to a less familiar passage of Scripture, remember that we need to be taught the same things time and time again because time and time again we fail to act on them. Praise the Lord for his patience!
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