I have a good friend who’s notorious for asking me a question every time we get together. I love my friend, but I bristle every time. His question presses me, holds me accountable, and makes me evaluate my life. That’s a good thing. So, as it goes, we hop in the golf cart together or sit down for lunch, and he asks: What’s God teaching you?
That’s a great question. For starters, it reflects sound theology. God is a speaking God, which means he is a teaching God, too (cf. Psalm 86:11). And aren’t we glad! So, we do well to listen to what he has to say in his Word and learn what he teaches. Furthermore, God has come to us in Jesus, the greatest teacher who has ever lived.
Second, Christians are students. Not like 7th grade English but more like an apprentice. There’s a word Jesus uses for his followers: disciples (Greek: μαθητής “mathētēs”). Disciple means “student or learner,” which means part of following Jesus is to always be learning from Jesus.
I think that’s why I bristle. I know God is a teaching God. I know my discipleship is largely defined by (and dependent on) what I am learning from Jesus — and applying to my life. Put that together and you come to a simple point: If you’re not learning, you’re not following. That’s tough, but it’s true.
So, as a matter of accountability (and hopefully to your encouragement!), let me offer an answer to my friend’s question: “Hey Neal, what’s God been teaching you lately?”
Time is marching on. I look at my family, my church, my friends and my neighbors. I’m struck with a question: “Where has the time gone?” It’s passed on by. Reflect on the past (e.g. 2020), but learn from it. The Bible implores us to “make the best use of our time” (Eph. 5:16). Have dinner with your family and play a board game. Leave work an hour early to surprise your wife. Take advantage of the day God has given you. Leverage your life for gospel influence. Grab life by the horns. Make the phone call. Submit the form. Whatever it is, do it now under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We must redeem the time.
My attitude affects other people. I wish I were more level-headed. I’m more of an up and down kind of guy. I have to watch that about myself. In doing so, the Lord has taught me the power of emotions. In short, attitudes are contagious—to the good and to the bad. The moods we carry tend to splash on people. A simple verbal exchange may make more impact than we know. As a follower of Christ, I want to be known as someone who has “been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Let’s just say it: The best attitude is a positive attitude. Anything less is to bring reproach upon the person of Christ and the power of his gospel. We may not be happy, but we must always be filled with joy (cf. Gal. 5:22). Proper theology leads to positive thinking, and those two make a dynamic duo.
I need sunshine. Our region of North Carolina has received record-breaking rainfall this winter. I thank God for the rain, but I do like the sun! I’ve learned this — I need to be outside. I need to run. I need to pitch baseball with my son. I need to walk the dog. That’s just how God has wired me. Part of Christian discipleship is simply knowing yourself all the while, knowing that God knows you better than you do (cf. Psalm 139). Pay attention to your tendencies, your habits, your personality, etc. Ask God to help you learn yourself, that you may live happy and holy.
We’re living in a season that’s like no other. If there ever was a time to learn from Jesus — it’s now. So, if you don’t mind me asking, “What’s God teaching you?”