As I get older, one of the things that has become increasingly, and at times painfully, apparent in my life is the fact that I still have much to learn. Much to learn about God and his word. Much to learn about ministry. Much to learn about family. And much to learn about myself. While the old adage may be true, that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, it should not be said that this old dog can’t learn to grow in his understanding. On one level this is exciting - think of all the books I yet have to read! But the perspective I am referring to are the blind spots that trip us up - the things we don’t see, much to our regret.
I think all of us who are getting up there in years, and even those still in the lower range of the age scale need to come to grips with the reality that we don’t know everything, never will know everything and need to stop thinking that we know everything. And on one hand learn to be okay with that. This doesn’t mean we stop learning, simply that we need to be more aware of our failings as we learn. The Apostle Peter, who messed up more than a few times in his journey of spiritual learning, wrote, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18). In the midst of the challenges that those believers to whom he wrote were going through he lays out the key; “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Growing is another way of thinking about learning. We grow in a myriad of ways as we experience life. Here Peter points out that for the believer the deepest manner in which we should grow is in grace and knowledge as it relates to our Saviour Jesus Christ. This kind of growing has the greater impact on the rest of life. Here’s the part where it is a bit painful - this kind of learning exposes our flaws. It lays bare the truth that we often seek to cover up, to hide deep down. Perhaps some of these faulty areas have been suppressed in such a fashion that we are completely unaware of their existence. But others see them. And this is where the learning moves from painful to comforting.
When we begin to learn about ourselves the Lord uses this to lead us to greater levels of delight in him and usefulness in his kingdom. So what is the best way forward? No doubt there are lengthier treatments that ably answer that question. However, let me keep it to a sentence or two and note that one of the keys is developing an ability to listen to others. More about this another time but I do think it important to encourage us all to be better listeners (see James 1:19). But the the way forward begins with honesty before the Lord. Through prayer we come face to face with the Holy One himself. When we recognize our flaws God can work in us to have better insight and the ability, through the Spirit, to overcome them. Add to this a friend or two who can walk the path with you and you’re on your way. Ultimately this will prove to be the way to grow as a believer, see yourself for who you really are and live life to the glory of our Heavenly Father.