Make Knowledge Easy for Your Children

What if I told you I discovered a Bible verse that revealed the secret to making it easy for your children to acquire knowledge? Well . . . I did. Ready? Here it is:

"A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding."

(Proverbs 14:6 ESV)

Did you read that? “Knowledge is easy”! How? First, we have to understand the difference between knowledge and understanding. It is the difference between facts and wisdom. It is the difference between knowing historical data and understanding what history can teach us about the world. It is the difference between knowing how to do something and knowing the right thing to do.

We live in a culture that has elevated knowledge above skill and wisdom. Our schools teach for knowledge—worksheets, testing. They do not emphasize skill or morality. For me, even gaining knowledge took second place to a much more important goal: passing classes and graduating!

Many of us who are teaching our children at home are products of this educational system. Many of us have made the mistake of taking public school objectives and strategies home with us. So, how can we correct this perspective and the resulting strategies? Let me give you a couple ways:

1. Aim for more than knowledge.

Knowledge is important. But it is not the most important. Very rarely do we acquire knowledge for its own sake, just to know it. We acquire knowledge to accomplish a more practical goal. We have projects, hobbies, goals, jobs, repairs, and chores that require knowledge.

Of course, this is the answer to every child’s favorite question, “Why?” It seems that no matter what instructions or corrections I give my children, they always ask the same question: “Why?” I think “Because I said so” is an appropriate answer. However, it can’t be the only answer. At some point our children will have to understand the why of what they are learning. The goal of learning is related to understanding. When we know why we are learning something then we understand it and it is much easier to learn.

So, how do we identify the why of what we are teaching? If we are aiming for more than knowledge, then what are we aiming for? Here is the simplest, and most important place to start:

2. Prepare your children to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives.

This must be the ultimate goal of all education because it is the ultimate goal of life. And what is God’s purpose for your children’s lives? Generally speaking, we all have the same purpose: to love God (Mark 12:30), love people (Mark 12:31), and make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).

Paul specifically contrasts knowledge and love in 1 Cor 8 and 13:

"This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
If anyone imagines that he knows something,
he does not yet know as he ought to know.
But if anyone loves God, he is known by God."

(1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV)

"And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
. . .  but have not love, I am nothing."

(1 Corinthians 13:2 ESV)

Knowledge is a means to an end. The end is love. EVERYTHING we do (and everything we teach) ought to have this purpose.

You want to make knowledge easy (or at least easier) for your children? Then put it in a meaningful context. Place it in submission to our ultimate purpose in life. The real challenge of teaching our children should not be wrestling with them over math or history. The real challenge should be imparting to them wisdom, a biblical worldview, a love for God, and a commitment to his purpose for their lives. 

What God Wants from Us the Most

I explained to Dana early on in our friendship that I liked long distance relationships. Yes, I wanted to marry her, but I didn’t really want to live with her. I wanted to marry her, but I didn’t really want to have to talk with her all that much. I wasn’t interested in having to share my stuff or my space or my time.

I think you get my point. What is marriage without relationship? And this is where I want to go with this analogy:

What does it mean to be a Christian, or to be religious, or to believe in God without a RELATIONSHIP with him? It means nothing. Here is the basic principle I want to talk about.

God created us to have a loving relationship with him.

There are vast numbers of passages in Scripture that reveal this to us. The whole Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of relationship to God. From God’s relationship with the Patriarchs, to God’s covenant with Israel and hatred of idolatry, to the sending of his own Son take our punishment and provide forgiveness, to the personal, indwelling presence of God by his Spirit, to the fulfillment of all creation in the marriage supper of the Lamb, uniting Christ and his Bride, the Church.

For now, I will only mention a few specific passages. The most decisive is where Jesus answers this all-important question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Of all the things that God has said he wants us to do, which is the most important? Jesus answers by quoting the Shema (Deut 6:4-6), “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Love. Not mere obedience. Not religious activity. Love. Love is relationship.

Here is another decisive verse that answers the question: “What does God want from us?” Heb 11:6 say, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Our basic belief in God is that he desires for us to draw close to him and seek to know him. This is relationship.

This is what makes knowing Christ much more than “religion,” if it can be called religion at all. Jesus made it clear that the religious people of his day had no hope without love for God (they even had the “right” religion). Knowing about Christ, believing in the fact of Christ or the gospel, and going to church OFFER NO HOPE FOR SALVATION! “Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Faith without works will not save you (James 2:14, 17), and the work of faith begins with drawing near and seeking God (Heb 11:6).

What we believe IS important. Salvation is only in the work of Christ when he satisfied God’s wrath for our sin on the cross. But be sure of this, a person’s faith in Christ’s saving work will result in LOVE.

So, this is the question I leave with you. How is your relationship with God?

Are you close to God? Are you drawing near to him? Are you seeking to know and love him? Have you settled for “religion?” Do you have false hope in your religious service or your mental acceptance of the facts of Christ?

Pursuing a Life of Purpose

Last Sunday I completed a teaching series on "Pursuing a Life of Purpose." Although all the principles presented are biblical, many of the ideas were inspired from Stephen Covey's book, First Things First. You can listen to or download these messages in the audio player in the right sidebar. I have embedded the presentation (made on below if you want to see the main points and scripture references as you listen.

"Three Cups of Tea"

The summer reading book for all incoming Freshmen at Appalachian State this year is the #1 NY Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Since I am teaching a First Year Seminar in the Fall ("Discourse in Politics and Religion"), I will be incorporating this into my class. It looks like it will be a great resource for discussing politics and religion. In the introduction, Relin describes Mortenson as a man who had "become a humanitarian who'd found a meaningful path to follow for the rest of his life" (p. 2). Besides the wonderful things that Mortenson has accomplished, I believe the reason that this book has captured the attention of so many readers is because we are drawn to passionate people who are consumed with a meaningful, charitable call in life. Unfortunately, one of the reasons we are drawn to such people is that so many of us do not possess our own meaningful paths. It is my conviction that God has designed us all for such fulfilling, others-centered purposes. Have you found yours?