Many years ago, at The Dales Bible Week, I heard a preacher called C.J. Mahaney speak about “Developing a Teachable Spirit”. He quoted a man called Charles Simpson who said,
“I’d rather teach a man how to learn than to teach him all I know”.
That talk has stuck with me ever since and has had a profound impact on my life over the years. It is of immeasurable importance for Christians to have a heart that is willing to be taught and receive instruction.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9)
The benefits of having a heart that is open to instruction are exemplified in the lives of many Bible characters both in the Old and New Testaments. Here are a few of them:
“Now Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
Moses was a meek and humble man with a teachable spirit. At the beginning of his quest with God, Moses was promised by the Lord to be taught the things to say and do. (Exodus 4:12) And God was faithful to lead Moses step by step in his journey giving him instruction along the way. Moses was also hungry to learn from and lean on the Lord’s guidance. When the Israelites were unashamedly defiant or when Pharaoh was stubborn as a mule, Moses found his way back to the Lord seeking further direction and encouragement. Moses exemplified the need for leaders to be of a teachable heart, to be humble and reverent to the Lord God in all submission. Now more than ever we need humble leaders like him.
“Show me your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25:4)
In the Psalms we hear David repeatedly calling out to God asking for his guidance and instruction. Listen to David’s words and observe the connection between being teachable and doing the God’s will.
Through David’s words we learn of the relationship between being teachable and following God. When we ask the Lord to teach us, we must accompany our request with a heart and desire to do his will. As we seek to know God’s will, we must understand that the process of discerning God’s will for our lives requires us to learn from him; it is therefore imperative to have a teachable spirit.
“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40)
If anyone exemplified learning God’s will by being teachable, it was Jesus. Imagine his assignment for a moment. Leaving the glory of heaven, he become an infant. He was born into a world saturated with sin having the assignment of living a faultless life that would lead to death. It is no wonder that Jesus clung so closely to his Father, seeking his will and being always sensitive to his leading and promptings. “Jesus gave them this answer:
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19)
Jesus showed us that our ultimate teacher is not man, but God our Father. By giving us the Holy Spirit, the Father has made it possible for us to also listen to Him and learn to follow his leading.
“But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The Apostles and first disciples were instructed by Jesus not to proceed with their mission of saving the world without the power of the Holy Spirit. As we read through the book of Acts, we see how the Holy Spirit not only empowered, but also instructed the disciples in the way they should go.
“Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:6-7)
It is tempting to try doing God’s will in our own wisdom and with our own strength. Instead of trying to figure everything out in our heads, we should aim to discern the voice of God’s Spirit more intimately in our hearts. Learning to hear from God and follow his leading will accelerate accelerate our ability to co-operate with him.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As Christians today we are so blessed to have the Spirit of God living within us as well as the Word of God to guide us. God’s Word reveals to us the way of salvation so we can come to know the Lord. (2 Timothy 3:15) It also teaches us how we should live and conduct ourselves in this world. The Word of God really is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105) God’s Word gives us discernment and helps us to mature as believers. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Spending time studying God’s Word is essential to our growth in Christ. But simply reading the Bible won’t do the trick. We must approach God’s Word with a teachable heart and a willing spirit.
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (Psalm 119:18)
We must listen to how God speaks to our hearts through the Word of God and then act on what he teaches us. (Matthew 11:5, James 1:22) Life becomes exciting when we quieten our hearts and listen to our Father’s whisper. (Isaiah 30:21)
Open your heart to the Lord today and ask him in sincerity, “Lord, teach me your ways.”