Sermon Illustrations

Preschool; Kindergarten; primary and elementary education; Middle School and Junior High; High School and Technical/Trade School; College and University; and postgraduate work are all the American Way of learning. From 3 – 4 years of age through the teenage years into early adulthood and sometime beyond we strive to learn all that we can to be a success in our vocations. Sometimes we even return to the educational system in our later years of life to brush-up on current trends in business and trade. Continuing Education for the mature and aged are commonplace among our Junior and Community Colleges of today.

Getting a good education is preached to us by our parents beginning at a very early age. Placing us in the “”right” schools is of utmost importance; sometimes leading to great competitiveness between close friends and family members. Receiving accolades for brilliance and educational competence is desired by many a parent for their children; even if it means forgoing all evening activities to get the job done. To see our kids names on the Honor Roll or Dean’s List is self-satisfying and allows us to be proud of not just the child but also ourselves; after all we were the ones that pushed them to excel.

Yet as we look at humanity as a whole we see lives falling apart; marriages being destroyed, relationships broken, homes devastated and families disrupted; even within those individuals who are very well educated. Common sense seems to have “gone out the window” along with the influx of grasping more and more book knowledge. Knowing how to deal respectively with interpersonal relationships has slipped out of our hands; while at the same time we strive to gain more knowledge from worldly theories and philosophies. The spiritual precepts of morals and ethics have been replaced by doubt and fear that is the outcome of the learned lifestyle of secular and humanistic thought.

Education is costly; in more ways than one. As a matter of fact, I would have to agree with the statement made by Derek Bok, the former president of Harvard University: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” I know that sounds a little strange after me kind of spouting off about the shortcomings of our educational process. But I really have nothing against anyone receiving a good education as well as the praise and rewards that accompany one’s academic endeavors.

What Bok and I agree upon is this: If we are so educated that we become so ignorant of our day-to-day relationship with God and others around us, then all our learning has been of no avail. We have gone beyond our dependency upon God and our brothers and sisters of the faith and stepped into the realm of self-indulgence and run the danger of losing wonderful rewards due to self-satisfaction.

Paul tells Timothy, his young apprentice in the ministry of the Gospel: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2Timothy 2:15].

The New King James Version, from which I have just read to you, sort of loses the real emphasis of this passage. The King James does do a little better job in presenting Paul’s intended thoughts. Better yet is the Amplified Bible and its analysis of this passage: “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.”

“Study” is a word we often hear when it comes to education and our learning processes. Why are we to study? As Paul says, its main purpose is to present ourselves as competent followers of the Christ. We study so we can gain all the knowledge of God’s Word so that we will rightly use it in our day-to-day living. This is the foundation of our moral and ethical fiber; here are found the tools and sound materials to build good interpersonal relationships. God’s Word is the common sense we need to structure our spiritual lives upon and to grasp in those moments of frustration and hardship; for there we can find the peace that surpasses all understanding. In God’s Word there is hope, and through hope there is strength for today and determination for tomorrow.

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