Philadelphia Church

Teachability

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge,
But he who hates correction is stupid.

Proverbs 12:1

    The Bible very rarely uses the word stupid as a descriptor. Apparently the unteachable man is worthy of this high and noble term. Everyone who has come into contact with another soul, or has honestly examined their own, has witnessed unteachability in some degree. However, there is a difference  between one who, at a certain time or place, refuses to learn something and one who continually walks in blatant disregard of the lessons put before him. The latter man could listen to a thousand lectures, be in the presence of the wisest of men, fail a thousand times in one area or another, and yet never learn a thing. This man ends up in a perpetual loop of stupidity. 
    That all men are ignorant is as obvious as the fact that all men have a nose. Those that fully accept this reality and are driven to remedy it through a thorough search for knowledge are considered teachable. There are two types of people who refuse to do this. The first is one who knows full well that he is ignorant and is perfectly content. He does not desire knowledge and resents anyone who attempts to teach him. The second generally begins with the spirit of teachability. Realizing that there is much to be learned he takes his first steps down the path to knowledge, but something happens along the way. There comes a point in his journey where he looks back at the travels of his mind and decides that he now knows enough, or at least a good deal more than everyone else. He becomes ignorant of his own ignorance. Pride begins to fester in his heart and cause him to always have to prove that he knows best. If a subject arises of which he knows little to nothing, he will either feign a working knowledge of the topic or redirect the conversation towards a subject with which he is better acquainted. The last thing he is willing to do is honestly admit his ignorance or seek to learn more. Both types of ignorant people have this in common: they refuse to be taught.
    Christ preached the importance of teachability with the words, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NIV). Children are the model that Christ gives us to illustrate what it means to have a teachable spirit. A child of five years is not afraid to speak on the things that he thinks he knows and is equally unafraid to be corrected when proven wrong. The problem with many grown men is that they are too prideful to do one or the other and, in the worst cases, either. Too often, men are afraid of truly speaking their minds solely because of the absurd fear of being found to be wrong. The fear is absurd because it is only too obvious that ninety percent of what we think we know is at least partially wrong, and that is a generous estimate.
    The wise man is not wise because he knows so much. He is wise because he acknowledges that he knows nothing and is always seeking opportunities to learn. Paul, perhaps one of the most brilliant men to ever live, sums it up with the words, “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2 NKJV). To concede one’s ignorance leads to true knowledge. This is a truth found all throughout the Scriptures: “...God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). In other words, God gives knowledge only to those who are willing, and therefore able, to receive it: the humble of heart. If this desire for knowledge is followed honestly and earnestly, it will always lead to the one ultimate truth; God Himself. Christ illuminated this reality when He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6 NKJV). Every man who has ever walked the earth has asked himself, in one way or another, “What is truth?” Many ask, but few earnestly seek for the answer. The ones that do are never disappointed, for God is a rewarder those who seek Him diligently (Hebrews 11:6).
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