Childlike Faith: The Importance of Having A Teachable Spirit

The biggest downfall of the Pharisees (Jewish priests) was that they believed they knew all there was to know about God. Due to this, they lived from a place of stagnancy in regard to their faith (this is where a lot of religious practice begins to replace true worship and relationship with God). In Mark 10:15, Jesus addresses a group of people, exclaiming, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” The confidence in His statement speaks volumes. Jesus essentially says, “Without a doubt, I inform you…there is no other way.” Jesus quells all confusion with those two phrases. All that is left is for the listeners to absorb the remaining information: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child...” The focus of this clause in Jesus’s warning is the receipt of God’s kingdom in a specific manner, like a child. How do we go about doing that? Let’s explore this together.

First of all, what does it mean to be teachable? Romans 12:2 AMP gives us an understanding of this as Paul states:

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be [a]transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Footnote: a. From the Greek word meaning “metamorphosis.” Refers to the process that leads to an outward, permanent change.

Being teachable requires a willingness for our mind to be renewed. Transformation and progressive change stem from this process. Maturity is developed as we learn and apply wisdom. Wisdom, though often associated with elders can be acquired at any age. Children are in the perfect position to absorb wisdom because they perpetually exist in a state of learning and development. There are a few particularly noteworthy qualities that children have, each of which we will briefly explore.

Curious

This can be summed up by one of the most pressing question asked by most children, “why?” While caretakers may find frustration in the incessant questioning of everything, God welcomes it. He has the answer to all of your heart’s deepest and most perplexing questions. The concerns that keep you up at night. The things that baffle you about His word. He can handle all of it. Alongside your questions, bring your doubts to God. If left unaddressed, doubt can weaken, if not destroy, your faith. A crucial component of faith involves the belief that God is able to address your concern(s) and then acting on it. In the same way that muscles can atrophy without movement, when we do not exercise our faith, we become spiritually stagnant. As God addresses our questions, He gets to the heart of the matter, providing a revelation that targets the root of all of our doubt and surpasses anything we could verbalize. This revelation allows us to walk in freedom from the hindrance doubt can sometimes pose to our spiritual growth. With His divine wisdom, God clears things up in His timing and sends us in the right direction, ready to exercise curiosity once again in the safety and reassurance of His presence.

Note: Read through the passage, John 20:24-29, featuring one of the disciples, often referenced as “doubting Thomas,” who had an encounter with Jesus that addressed his doubt.

Moldable

There is no amount of preparation or achievement that exempts us from improvement. We must avoid having a “know-it-all” spirit and let go of controlling tendencies. I know it can be difficult (trust me) but it is for our betterment. God cannot work effectively through someone who refuses to give Him full access. Think about it. It would be like asking Jesus to “take the wheel” and then fighting Him for control of it afterward (no judgment if this has been you, just let this be a reminder to choose to sit in that passenger seat and allow the One know knows all things to direct your path). Proverbs 3:6 AMP makes this explicit for our understanding, stating, “In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” Remember, you’re still on the journey, even if you aren’t in the driver’s seat. If you find yourself tripping over some old mindsets, repeating mistakes or stagnant in a particular area of your life, it’s a good time to examine whether you’ve acknowledged and surrendered yourself, or that thing, to God. Furthermore, things that cannot be molded are often hard. You may be familiar with the phrase, “hard-headed,” a label children often receive when they misbehave or fail to demonstrate that they have learned something. This is also referenced in the Bible when people are described as having a “hardened heart,” usually regarding their rebellion against God through willfully sinful behavior. Ultimately, flexibility allows for a less painful experience of life due to the ability to ebb and flow with the changing circumstances. On the other hand, rigidity can lead to brokenness and the need for immense repair.

Meek

“Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.

– Matthew 5:5

The word meek, according to dictionary.com, has a few definitions. One describes a meek person as “overly submissive or compliant” as well as “spiritless” or “tame.” In today’s society, being considered meek isn’t often a compliment, hence the additional “obsolete” definition of “gentle” and “kind.” However, if we pay attention to what the word of God has to say, we get a very different picture. Here, we are told that the meek gain an inheritance. This is something given that is unearned and benefits the recipient. Another well-known verse is 1 Peter 5:6 , of which the Amplified version states, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God [set aside self-righteous pride], so that He may exalt you [to a place of honor in His service] at the appropriate time.” God desires to offer exaltation and blessing to His children; He only requires that the recipient be humble enough to receive it. Having humility denotes that you understand that what you’ve received isn’t based on your accomplishments, but rather because of your reliance on God. There is something to be said of the person who patiently waits to be blessed and humbly receives the gift. The other definition of meek, offers a slightly different perspective. It describes a person who is “humbly patient or docile,” (another underestimated word, docile refers to someone who is “teachable,” please don’t miss this!). This one word encompasses three of the nine Fruit of the Spirit (gentleness, kindness and patience), which helps us to understand that assuming a meek posture allows us to develop in alignment with God’s desired design.

Submissive

Are you submitted to God as you read His word? Or, are you flipping through the pages in search of a way to justify your own desire to hold onto something? God requires for us to trust that He knows best. His word says:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

– Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV

There is God’s way and there is our way. We can either choose to submit ourselves to His wisdom or choose to live according to our own. This is punctuated in adolescence, with the teenager who begins to believe that they have a deep enough understanding of life to live according to their own standard. They have a choice to submit to their parent’s wisdom or to try things their own way. It is quite likely that many of us know the trauma (Big “T” or little “t”) of decisions we’ve made that we now regret, wishing we heeded the wisdom of our caretakers. God desires to spare us from that but we have to choose it for ourselves. Similarly, true submission to God requires ongoing dependence on Him. Children are wholly dependent on their caretakers for their needs. This creates an experience of vulnerability for them. This is what God seeks from us. Total dependence on Him and vulnerability in our relationship with Him.

Note: For more on dependence, read through Paul’s reasoning in regards to his dependence on God’s strength in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

A Note on Unlearning:

Along this journey with Christ, we collect things that become a part of our understanding of God. Some of it will be accurate. Some of it will be skewed due to misrepresentation and/or misinterpretation. Due to this reality, we need to be ready and willing to unlearn anything that is not truly of God. This may be one of the most difficult experiences to endure, but it is absolutely necessary. The good thing about this is that God already knows and understands what went wrong. He is graciously waiting to guide us back into His presence where He is able to help us walk in true righteousness.

Is there another child-like attribute that you believe helps produce a teachable spirit? Take some time to write it down and consider searching scripture for any examples.

‘Til next time.

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