I admit I enjoy learning. I liked reading the encyclopedia when I was a child. When I was in college, I once remarked that I could be a professional student. I loved taking classes, and as graduation came, I lamented that I couldn’t get to all of them that I wanted to. But I had a huge college debt already and needed to actually get on with life beyond college.
However, I’ve known women whose eyes glaze over when a pastor or Bible teacher mentions verb tenses or Greek words, things I love because they help me understand the text better. I’ve known some women to fidget, sigh, squirm, and make funny comments during a more academic Sunday School lesson and then become thoroughly engaged listening to a speaker with more froth than substance.
Sometimes these women are gifted in other ways. Some are more outgoing, easily engage with people socially, and are great at making people feel welcome – all things that don’t come naturally to me and that I have to work at.
Just as those of us who are introverted and do not easily begin conversations have to go outside our comfort zones sometimes, so those who are not naturally academically inclined have to go beyond their natural grain sometimes. By “not academically inclined” I don’t mean not smart. There are different kinds of smart, “book smart” being just one of them.
And granted, there are some speakers and writers who overdo the academics with a plethora of multi-syllabled theological terms that only a seminary graduate would know. I’m not talking about that kind of academics. I’m talking about this:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30, ESV.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2, ESV.
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13, KJV. (The ESV renders “gird up the loins of your mind” as “preparing your minds for action.“)
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14, ESV.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15, NASB.
God doesn’t want to touch just our hearts from His Word, He wants us to use our minds, to engage our brains.
I think one reason that so many spiritual books marketed to women are so shallow, as Aimee Byrd wrote, is that we tend to want to be spoon-fed processed “inspirational” food without having to think too much about it. And, as I wrote recently in regard to doctrine, sometimes we approach the Bible just wanting “something to get me through the day” or something uplifting rather than wanting to study it.
There are times, like when there are young children in the house, or during times of illness or exhaustion, when there is not as much time or our brains aren’t quite as up to exercise as usual.
And we have to be careful to keep things in balance and not become like the Pharisees, who were all academic knowledge and no heart and soul.
But next time we pick up our Bibles or listen to someone preach or teach, let’s seek to be taught, to think, to learn.
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11, ESV.
Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law! Psalm 119:29, ESV.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Psalm 119:33, ESV.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Psalm 119:66, ESV.
Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord
Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.
Thy Word is like a starry host: a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life’s long battle day, all needful weapons there.
O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.
Words: Edwin Hodder, The New Sunday School Hymn Book, 1863