Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Onward Christian Soldiers"1 (Lyrics)
Looking at a first-level workbook in the Accelerated Christian Education system, a high school student exclaimed, "Mrs. B, I want to do this work. It looks so easy!" To him it appeared easy, but to the first grader whose book it was, it was simply his work.
How does a student get from one level of difficulty to another? It's called training. Learning with the mind, just like training the body, has three components: a starting point, manageable chunks, and repetition. Isaiah, in speaking of the wayward Israelites who would not listen to the Lord, said:
Isaiah 28:13a – So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there. (NLT)
In our Christian school, when a five- or six-year-old student tested "ready to read", he started learning the sounds of the alphabet, then blending them together to make words. These words made sentences, which then became short stories. Progress was ensured because there was a definite starting point: the child's readiness for learning. Small segments, taken one at a time, only gradually became more complicated. Lots of repetition and a computer-controlled vocabulary led to reading fluency.
1 Peter 2:2a – Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. (NLT)
Learning to read can be likened to our Christian lives. The starting point is our new birth in Christ, where God's Spirit is joined to our spirit. Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the words of the Bible and teachings that we hear begin to make sense. At first, we proceed in baby steps. Babies need milk at the beginning of their lives; they can't digest solid food. New Christians learn simple truths to know how to do right.
Hebrews 5:14 – Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (NLT)
When we are discipling new believers, remember that the simple truths that they've been learning can gradually be replaced with solid food, more complicated truths. They should be fed these truths in manageable chunks, a bite at a time. These truths should not be shoved down their throats whole, or they may choke with too much information.
A Christian needs to keep eating in order to grow. Even mature Christians, who have known the Lord for many years, need to keep on learning and have constant repetition in the lessons of the Bible. Sometimes, we need to "go around the mountain one more time" if we have not learned our lesson the first time. Some of us, myself included, need lots of practice in certain lessons.
How gracious is our God, Who gives us plenty of chances to practise what He wants us to know! He is gently training us in righteousness.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You are a gentle teacher, Who breaks down the lessons that we need to learn into bite-sized pieces and gives us plenty of opportunities to practise until we learn them. Help us not to be impatient when we have to repeat lessons over and over to master them. We welcome Your training so that we can become more like You. Amen.