Learn to Love, 12 June 2016

Learn to Love
Graduation Sunday
Proverbs 1:1-7

Big Idea:
We need to learn…to be wise and loving.

Dear graduates,

Congratulations! I have some important things to say to all of you…and everyone else in attendance today. Today is not the end of your education. Hopefully. I hope you will all be life-long learners. God has created an incredible universe for us to explore. When you stop learning, you stop living. I urge you to be curious. Ask questions. Read books. Listen to podcasts.

You no doubt have obtained great knowledge in your studies, but the real value of knowledge is in its application:

In the words of the great theologian (!) Jimi Hendrix, "Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens."

The greatest source of wisdom is, of course, Almighty God. He created this world and knows it better than anyone. 1 Kings 3 records God speaking in a rather unique way, a passage we coincidentally read this week during in the One Story Bible reading plan:

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:5-14)

In the next chapter, it says

God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 4:29-34)

When Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, he was considered the wisest man on the planet. Here’s how he began

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;

for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—

for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Graduates, as you continue on in life, you will learn from many sources. As children, we learn from parents and family. The next verses in Proverbs talk about the value of the instructions of parents (Proverbs 1:8-9).

As we get older,
we learn from our friends (Proverbs 1:10-19). You are your friends. Choose wisely.

We also learn from our culture. Screens are everywhere, bombarding us with narcissistic messages that say it’s all about us. The pursuit of happiness has become the American way, yet it’s not God’s highest desire for us. He wants us to pursue holiness more than happiness. Be careful what you let into your mind. Virtually all commercials are designed to make us discontent. Amusement literally means to not use your brain, a-muse. Social media tempts us to compare our normal lives with the highlight reels of others. Be discerning when you absorb television, computer, tablet, and phone screens.

We learn from others: peers and mentors. We are called to be disciples of Jesus and to make disciples of Jesus (Philippians 4:9).

We are to learn from God’s Word. The psalmist wrote

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.

I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9-11)

God’s Word, the Bible, has been read and followed for thousands of years. It is the most studied, published, and subversive book in human history. By far! It’s not politically correct. People have given their lives for possessing it, distributing it, and even translating it. It’s powerful. It’s true. It’s raw. It’s honest. It’s real.

The Bible is the entre, not the spice. You need more than a dash of it. Spend quality time each day reading it, memorizing it, studying it.

We are to learn from God. The best thing about the Bible is it’s our best way to know our Father. It’s a letter from God for us. He also speaks, though, through the Holy Spirit, circumstances, dreams, impressions, and other people. He will never contradict His Word, so it’s important to discern anything we believe God is saying.

Solomon said

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

For years I have been gathering with others asking two simple questions;

- What is God saying? We listen, read, discuss, and discern.
- What will I do about it? Belief requires action. It can’t stay in our head.

Graduates, I urge you to continue to learn—from godly sources. We naturally absorb the world’s messages…and so many are outright lies. Even scientific research is sometimes overturned, though I appreciate contributions science has made to our lives.

Learn. Learn from godly people. Learn from God’s Word. Learn from God.

Education is gift. It is a tool. It is not the goal. The ultimate goal is to apply your knowledge…wisdom.

Finally, learn to love.

Learn to love God. He loves you. Jesus died for you, the ultimate expression of love. We love because He first loved us.

Learn to love others. God loves them. Find ways to serve. Look out for their best interest. Some can be challenging. You and I can often be challenging. We are, however, to love unconditionally. That’s God’s agape love. Paul described it this way:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Learn to love.

It has been said when you stop learning, you stop living.

But seek wisdom, not merely knowledge. Most of all seek God. He's the ultimate source of wisdom...and life...and love.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
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