What are we learning?

A soul that’s not self-reflective is a superficial and impoverished soul. It has no knowledge of its own shortcomings. Its focus is more often on the shortcomings of others. It has no governing capability to mitigate against its own hypocritical double-standards. It looks into the mirror but never to discover its true nature, which can only come through reflective revelation.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should go into some mind-numbing navel-gazing exercise. Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting we learn how to respond to the voice of God.

I say this because our Christian culture seems to be very well trained at hearing but not in responding to what we hear. We love a good messages with lots of truth bombs, we listen to podcasts, we have stuffed lots of information about God into our minds. In some ways, that’s good. But we tend to listen to good teachings, even read the Bible, like a good novel or a guide book of good principles, to be wowed, even entertained, rather than letting it pierce our soul and locate us.

As James says, this type of unresponsive learning is practicing self-deception.

22 Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life! (James 1:22 TPT*)

For this “Word of Truth” is a Living Person, working in us, “dividing soul and spirit…judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, which is meant to produce the fruit of the Spirit (Heb.4:12; Gal.5:22-23). But we cannot imitate fruit; we must enter into this cooperative process with Truth in order to walk in its freedom. If we don’t let the Bible study us in this way, we become what James calls “forgetful hearers”:

23 If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning. 24 You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word, but then you go out and forget your divine origin.  (James 1:23 TPT*)

When we read what God says about us in His Living Word, we begin to discover our true identity. But if we don’t respond to this reflection by faith, and act on it, we put ourselves on a path of self-deception. We’ve deceived ourselves into thinking we’re spiritually mature when our soul remains impoverished, still in need of milk, because it has not been trained through practice.

13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb.5:13 NIV*)

I said all of that to say this…

What have we learned about ourselves in 2020?

Have the adverse events and circumstances of 2020 colored, or clouded, our perception of what God is actually doing in us, and around us?  Are we responding to our circumstances or to what God is saying to us?

Furthermore, what hidden treasure is waiting for us as our vision clears?

I think it would be good for us to reflect on these questions and honestly assess our hearts as this unique and troubling year comes to a close. Because God has been speaking to all of us. And when we turn our hearts toward Him, we will hear what He’s saying. The only thing left for us to do is respond. I will close with this promise from God to those who will enter into this cooperative process with Him.

25 But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do! (James 1:25 TPT)

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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3 Responses to What are we learning?

  1. Your posts are just like a little gift waiting to be unwrapped, Mel!

    I love your first paragraph. Long ago we used to understand the importance of, “know thyself.” Somebody smart once said, “an unexamined life is hardly worth living,” but mostly the more we know ourselves, the more we know our Lord! Or perhaps the more we know our Lord, the more we get to know ourselves? I’m not sure what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Regardless, God wants the richness of our souls to thrive and prosper.

    For me 2020 has really been all about learning how to rest, just abiding in the Lord with some degree of trust, no matter what is going on all around me. In many ways it’s been a really good year and I’ve discovered I was pretty much made for such a time as this. Often we are learning, even when it doesn’t really look or feel like it. Sometimes the poo really has to hit the fan before you can put everything into practice and realize you’ve been trained and so now you got this.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, IB. And great comments! What you’re talking about is the reciprocal nature of our relationship with the Lord. Sometimes, we see Him in a new way, and sometimes we see ourselves in a new way in Him! It’s been a year of learning how rest in the Lord and learning to trust Him for me, too.

      This has also certainly been a year to reveal what we’re made of. We’ve been studying and talking about all we think we know for years. Now, we get to take the test! 🙂

  2. Pingback: “What Are We Learning?” | See, there's this thing called biology...

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