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Digesting Scripture

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As a school teacher I had the firm belief that children should learn at their own pace, with encouragement, otherwise most will be filled with data they cannot handle, and so start to fall behind, probably failing in their exams. It is far better for them to learn new information and digest it properly, before they begin to learn something new. Then, whatever they have truly ingested will be a part of their thoughts and ideas. Otherwise, new information will just fleetingly enter the head, but because it is not ingested it will just as quickly leave the mind again! Sadly, most children suffer this kind of force-feeding and come to hate learning of any kind.

After I was thrown out of my job by homosexuals, in 2005, I spent a few years trying to become a travel writer, and wrote a lot with almost no income. I developed a relationship with a Croatian head of tourism and spent many hours in the Istrian region, writing about dozens of new hotels and ventures. In itself this was fascinating and most enjoyable, and took my mind off my previous sacking.

On one occasion I was taken to a particular restaurant by my driver-interpreter, and sat down to a meal before going on to another hotel. I was served two huge sea-bass with local trimmings and duly ate the plateful, washed down with a very light wine (even though I have no passion for wine – I did not want to upset my host). My driver ate heartily, too. As soon as the plate was cleared another plate was put before me, this time with different fish! It is my usual ploy to order fish when out, because fish tends to be easier to finish, but I did not expect more! This time I gave my wine to the driver. A sample is fine, but not another glassful.

I just about finished the plate when ANOTHER plate was put before me, this time with a massive steak with chips! And more wine. Sorry, I just could not face it. I told the driver, who told me that there would be SEVEN courses and I had only eaten two. I explained that I simply could not eat any more, and that I usually had a very small appetite. So, he ate his portion and had my wine again. Embarrassed, he explained to the host, whose food was free, and we left.

As an eater I only eat when I am hungry, and I never stuff myself until I am beyond full. I know many who, faced with a huge amount of food, will happily eat the lot. If they order a carvery meal they will literally put mounds of food on their plate AND return for even more! This is when eating for hunger turns into a sinful lust for food.

Any food eaten like this turns against the eater, whose system will take in everything but will ‘turn’ against the eater at some point, whether by heartburn, higher cholesterol, a fatter gut, or something more serious. At any rate, food eaten just because it is there does not do anything much for the eater, except feed his greed.

What am I getting at? Just this – when it comes to gathering knowledge of the Lord, many people like to get as much as possible without bothering to digest it properly. Many times I have come across Christians who think this knowledge-base is just a matter of storing it in the mind. Not so! All this does is to stoke up ‘spiritual cholesterol’ and acids that turn on the mind in an unpleasant way!

Food should only be eaten if it is necessary. Yes, niceties can be tried, but not all the time. Over-eating – greed – results in an eventual malady of the body. Under-eating results in weakness and other forms of malady. The child who is stuffed with knowledge will invariably forget what he is given. Too little, and he will never be able to progress properly or find work. He must take in knowledge and work with it, making sure it is assimilated, before taking in even more information.

I know people who think all they need to do to learn scripturally, is to just read and listen, and say “Got it!” Their knowledge is stored away, of little practical value, and can be pulled out again when the topic arises. But, this is not genuine knowledge, nor does it lead to understanding. To understand, the person must USE the knowledge appropriately, in the right place, at the right time, in the proper situation. And, as I often tell students – the proof of real learning is that he can use the information by relating it IN HIS OWN WORDS. One can continually repeat biblical verses, but yet have no real understanding. Thus, the information is useless.

Christians must continually learn, but this is not the same as stuffing a head with knowledge and thinking that is all there is to it. He must learn ‘precept upon precept’ (Isaiah 28:10). If doctrine (the whole word of God) is not imbibed bit at a time and ingested, and then used in an appropriate manner, your doctrine will be faulty and unable to be worked-with.

There is a fluency in someone who ingests doctrine well, that will not be found in Christians who try to force-feed their heads with knowledge. All this does is bring about a spiritual form of acid-reflux! Such Christians are always learning but they never arrive at genuine knowledge or understanding (2 Timothy 3:7).

It is better to learn at a slower pace and then to mull the information over time and again until it ‘clicks’ in the soul. When it does, it will be firmly set in the mind and heart, another building block necessary for the whole person and the whole Church. Go too fast and the importance will be missed, the lessons filtering away like drips from a broken cistern. I guarantee that when we set out to learn in a very real and proper way, though we begin slowly, as we put more bricks together, we become faster and faster, as many strands of truth join as one. But, fail at the start, and your knowledge will build without true understanding. The majority of Christians are in this sad position, which is why they cannot tolerate genuine doctrine.

© January 2016

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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