February 10, 2014

Teaching and Learning

Devotion for the Week...
Have you ever taught quilting, or any other skill? Teaching requires that you understand the subject yourself, and that you understand why things are done a certain way. When I have taught quilting classes, I have needed to know why 1/4" seams are important, and why quality materials make such a big difference to the finished product. I have explained why I prewash all my fabrics and why pressing before cutting those fabrics makes for more accurate cuts.

But teaching often helps you to more fully understand the subject too. A couple of years ago, Aiden and Zachary were at the point where they could pretty much tell me all the stories in all the Bible storybooks we owned. When I looked for new books, I found they just told the same stories, and it seemed like a waste of time to continue reading those types of books with them. So we moved on to reading from the real Bible, rather than a children's retelling of the Bible. Zachary is the one most likely to ask questions as we read, whether it is about the meaning of some obscure word or simply why something happened the way it did. It is eye-opening how often I have to say "I don't know," especially when it comes to customs or traditions. I usually try to look up an answer after we're done reading, so we're all learning together.

Writing to a man named Philemon, Paul wrote, "I pray that you will be active in sharing what you believe. Then you will completely understand every good thing we have in Christ" (Philemon 6). Paul is urging Philemon to tell others what he believes and why, which will in turn help him to understand for himself the full extent of what is promised to us as Christians.

How could telling others help Philemon, and us? When someone doesn't believe as you do, they often ask questions, which makes you search your understanding of the gospel to explain it to them. That helps to solidify the truth in your own mind. 

If you are going to be actively sharing with others, you may try to prepare ahead of time, so that you are ready whenever the opportunity presents itself, which means you read your Bible, spend time in prayer and pay close attention to sermons that you hear or books that you read. Hopefully it means that you also compare those sermons or books with your own understanding of the Bible so that you don't blindly follow the opinions of others. 

It is a cycle, conversation with those who do not believe, which sparks questions that send us back to the Bible to help us know the answers, which makes us better prepared for more conversations. Hopefully that leads to an understanding of Jesus' love and offer of salvation for the people we are talking with, and a deeper understanding of "every good thing we have in Christ" for us.

How about you? Are you actively sharing what you believe? Are you preparing for the questions that may come when you do share? There are benefits for those you talk with, and for you, if you speak up when presented with an opportunity to share what you believe.

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