A Christian is someone who is ever learning. We are to live by “every word” of God; consequently, this means a lifetime of positive change (Matthew 4:4). It’s good to check up on ourselves every once in a while and ask: Am I teachable?
The carnal mind resists change. It hates to be corrected. It is self-satisfied and chafes at the slightest suggestion it may be wrong. Vanity, pride and self-reliance are the hallmarks of a mind that is not teachable. These carnal attitudes bear fruits: being argumentative, quick to dismiss correction, and quick to justify self.
A teachable mind bears the opposite fruits: humility, meekness and a spirit of sweet tenderness. And 1 Peter 2:18-25 and 3:1-7 teach us to be teachable and humble like our Husband, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ took unwarranted and undeserved rebuke and death without even a bitter or snarky word (Isaiah 53:7). The Apostle Peter used that example to stir us to action toward ever greater humility, meekness and submission to authority.
God sees to it that every Herbert W. Armstrong College student is reminded that they are at His college because of what they don’t know. If a student arrives at God’s college and persistently thinks he or she knows it all and is there to show everyone how talented or gifted he or she may be, that student will entirely—and sadly—miss the point of what a true Christian is all about. Being teachable means coming to see that we don’t know anything of value without God leading and guiding us into His way (Psalm 73).
In John 14, Jesus explained to His disciples that He was soon going to part ways with them, adding, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (verse 4).
What is this way? It is a spirit of tender meekness and lowliness of heart that fears God and the authority He has placed over us for our spiritual well-being.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
In an article titled “What Is a Christian?” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “A real, true, fully developed Christian is perhaps the rarest thing on Earth. … He is a student. He realizes education is not merely something one acquires in a classroom, but a life-long process. …
“He realizes that knowledge must be in association with understanding and wisdom to be useful, and that it is of little value except as it is applied in action. He studies to learn what to do, how to live, where he has been in error, what must be overcome. He studies with open mind, with contrite heart willing to confess and forsake error, and to adopt new views when they are proved to be true views” (Good News, November 1951).
Jesus famously explained that a true Christian is akin to a little child—moldable, changeable, quick to please, and easy to be entreated (Matthew 18:1-3). God’s Kingdom will be inherited by the humble (verse 4).
If you want to know how teachable you are, take this simple test. Go to your immediate overseer—be that a husband, father and mother, or minister, and ask: How well am I doing? What changes can I make? What habits or attitudes do I need to change? Where do you think I may be going wrong? Most importantly, ask God for His loving correction (Hebrews 12:6). This spirit of humility brings such sweet unity toward God and His government and all the relationships inside that loving Family.
The degree to which we resist correction, or dislike opinions contrary to our own, is directly proportional to how carnal we are. Change is giving back to God and to our neighbors. It requires selflessness and outflowing love. This is the fulfilling of God the Father’s law (Romans 13:10).
As Mr. Armstrong explained in the above article, making these changes stick requires discipline, self-direction and emotional maturity—hard work! However, don’t be discouraged if you struggle against a pocket of heavy resistance to change or to correction. Grind away at it. Conversion is a lifetime process. But it does mean change—even if it is only incremental at first.
To be a true Christian, there is no escaping the fact that we have to struggle and change. But with the perfectly teachable, perfectly loving, infinitely powerful Jesus Christ living inside of us, we can strive toward and achieve this perfect end!
From the Archives: Royal Vision, July-August 2012