We tackle Proverbs 3 this week, and before we jump in, I just want to say a huge thank you for your comments so far. I hope you have been enjoying it and it has increased your hunger for wisdom.
My difficulty in writing about the Proverbs is knowing how deep to dive. As you can imagine, we could study a single line each day and spend the next 10 years on the book! Perhaps that is not a bad thing, but I do want to encourage you to study the depths for yourself too.
My son, don’t forget my teaching;
but let your heart keep my commandments:Proverbs 3:1 (WEB)
The chapter opens with an instruction not to forget the teaching. That sounds simple enough, but I wonder how easy it is?
This post lands on a Monday, and if I ask you what your pastor taught on yesterday at church, can you remember? What about the previous Sunday?
I mentioned before that I enjoy a number of Christian podcasts, and listened to several over the weekend. What were they about? Am I able to give you a summary? Not easily! The reason is, although I listened, I did not engage with the teaching. I agreed with it, found it helpful, but took no notes and did other things while listening. I may retain some surface knowledge of the subject, but did not meditate on it nor store up the knowledge in my heart (as Proverbs 3:1b encourages us to).
God has been leading me to “consume” less and to engage more. It is not about how many sermons I listen to, but what I learn from the ones I do.
It is not about how many sermons I listen to, but what I learn from the ones I do. #Bible #Christianity #MemoryTweet
Being perfectly honest with you, I am not doing very well with this command. I have cut back on the range of messages I listen to, but I cannot say that I have taken the steps I need to really engage more.
What I need to do, and I offer this as a suggestion for you also, is as follows:
- Slow down
- Give it my full attention
- Make notes
Taking each in turn, I must first slow down. I turn up the speed on my podcast player so that a 30-minute sermon takes much less time. This may be of use in certain situations, but if trying to learn something, then slow and steady is far better.
As above, I tend to plug my earbuds in, turn on a podcast and then do a hundred other things while listening. Again, this is not wholly wrong but it must also mean that I am not giving the teaching my full attention. I may hear the words being said, but are they penetrating my heart? Unlikely. Rather, I should be sat down, limiting distractions and focus on the subject at hand.
My memory is naturally good, and so I have never been too reliant on notes. the truth is though, that when we write notes about something we are listening to, we are processing that information. Our retention of that message will be far greater if we have written down key things that were important to us.
Many years ago, I started a journal of sorts where I wrote down particular Bible verses and bullet points about things the Lord had shared with me (be it directly or through others’ teaching). This was a very7 helpful practice and I had hoped to build an almost entire commentary over the course of my life. I have let it slip, although still have it, and perhaps this post is a nudge from God to pick that up again.
Finally, if we really want to ensure we do not forget a teaching, we must apply it. We need to assess what we have learned and decide what we will do about it. Not every passage in the Bible lends itself to practical action. For instance, it is easier to apply an instruction to pray from an epistle, than it is to apply something from a historical narrative or word of prophecy.
Most Bible teaching should lead us to some form of corresponding action. I am quite a practical person so am always reading the Scriptures, and looking for something I can do with them. Often I am thinking, “How would I teach this passage?” It is not always a healthy approach, and so we should handle the Bible text appropriately.
Having discussed only one verse from Proverbs 3, I am coming to a close on this post. All that I have said above about not forgetting teaching applies also to blogs you and I read. I follow a number of Bible and Christian blogs, and all are helpful at times. Do I fully engage with them though? The truth is not always. I read, like, and then move on to the next one, missing huge opportunities to grow in my faith. How about you?
Will you take the steps above to improve your recollection of Bible teaching? Let me know how you get on.