by John Armstrong

You’ve heard the old cliché that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That is simply not true,
you can teach an old dog new tricks, it just may take a little more time and patience, but they
can learn. Learning has a lot to do with desire to learn. There has to be a perceived benefit to
learning. I’ve seen people who had no interest in learning, all of a sudden become very
attentive students when they find out they’re going to get something they want from the
There are people out there that are unteachable. They are unteachable because they don’t
want to learn beyond simply acquiring knowledge. I think it is important to think in terms of
what it means to learn. We think of learning as gaining or acquiring knowledge, but is that all
there is when we are talking about being teachable? As Christians, we need to always be
thinking of how our learning impacts our life as disciples of the Lord Jesus. If we look at it from
the perspective of “the teacher” in Ecclesiastes, learning simply for the sake of acquiring
knowledge is just so much vanity. I know the commandments, but if I don’t do them of what
good are they? None, in fact they serve to condemn me. So, we have to ask ourselves, why are
we learning? To what end are we learning? We start to get somewhere when we see that
learning must serve a purpose to be worthwhile. Here is where I want to change our definition
of what it means to learn. I want us to define learning as acquiring knowledge for the purpose
of changing our practice. In other words, taking what we learn and putting into practice in our
daily lives.
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. Taking knowledge and applying it so
that our behavior changes. With regard to the things of the Lord, we are squarely in the realm
of the Holy Spirit’s work. We need the Holy Spirit applying what we’ve learned to make lasting
and true change in our lives. It is a process; we must have the Holy Spirit opening our minds
and our hearts to learn and be changed. We certainly participate in this process, we are not
passive, we must respond by putting what we’ve learned into practice. That can be
uncomfortable, that can challenge our idols, that will mean the status quo of our lives has to
change. Growing is a difficult and often painful process. As Christians, that is what we are
called to, but we praise God that He has not left us alone in the process. He is there, He is
working, it is His power and strength that brings about the change. In all of it, He is faithfully
working out His decree.
My prayer for myself is, Lord make me teachable, change me, grow me in grace that I may
follow Jesus more faithfully. I pray that for you as well. To be unteachable is a sad place to be,
because it is a place of unwillingness to change. It is a place of resistance to the Lord. Give us
teachable hearts, O God!