Have you ever wished you could accelerate time and make yourself grow older in an instant – past the age of childhood, adolescence and early puberty? After all, being a grown-up seems to be so much fun, right? If only my life was like a DVD player where I could just fast-forward through the scenes of being told what to do by my parents, having to wake up early every morning for school; and of course, those stressful exams, awkward teenage moments, as well as curfews and other restrictions that are placed upon every young person’s life.
Just about every single person has felt that way at one point or another during their childhood. Boys eagerly look forward to their first shave, their first job or their first car. Girls eagerly look forward to… uh… I guess the same things except for the shaving part. I mean, who can really tell how a girl thinks, right? They seem to be a lot smarter than boys though, that’s for sure.
It is natural for a child to want to grow up and to gain a greater sense of identity and independence, because we were never intended to remain immature, illiterate or ignorant children. Almost everything in life starts off at the point of a seed which must be properly nurtured and cultivated in order for it to arrive at a place of full maturity. And a major part of the process of growing up and becoming mature is being willing to submit ourselves to the system of training, education and instruction that God has prepared for each of our lives.
Notice that I used the term growing up and not growing old in the previous sentence, because there is a world of difference between the two. There are many people who grow old without ever really growing up because they never fully submitted themselves to the process of maturity by way of instruction. Growing old is a matter of age; growing up is a matter of choice – your choice to willingly adhere to and submit to the process of receiving wise instruction. To refuse proper instruction, therefore, is to create a handicap in our lives that will prevent us from reaching full maturity.
Experience is NOT the best teacher
From since the beginning of man’s existence on planet earth God’s intention has always been for man to learn from instruction rather than experience. In fact, one can argue that it was man’s desire to promote experience above God’s clear instruction that occasioned the fall in the first place. God instructed Adam (who would have in turn instructed his wife) that they were forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest they die (Gen 2:15-17). Eve, however, was manipulated and deceived by the serpent into believing that God was holding out on them and didn’t actually mean what He said, thus awakening in her a desire to taste the fruit and to experience the results firsthand. Both she and Adam ate of the fruit and did in fact gain the experience, but in doing so they lost their lives and plunged all of humanity into sin and death.
This episode communicates several important principles, a very important one being that instruction, and not experience, is the best teacher. Contrary to popular opinion, experience may be a very effective teacher, but it is certainly not the best. The best teacher is the one that is able to protect and preserve you from the consequences of that thing that you are liable to experience. In other words, even though personal experience will give you undeniable evidence and proof that fire burns, it is unable to protect you or the others involved from the pain or consequences of that burn because it operates through hindsight. Instruction, however, operates through foresight and allows you to take preventative action and precautionary measures to keep from getting burned in the first place.
There are some mistakes or experiences that will not allow you a second chance to actually learn from them or put that knowledge to use. When man fell by eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree in the midst of the garden and elevated experience above instruction, it immediately brought man into bondage to sin and death. There was nothing within man’s power to reverse what he had done or learn from his mistake. He (Adam) would never again be afforded another opportunity to obey in a similar context.
Similarly, if you decided one day that you wanted to learn from experience whether crossing a major highway or intersection without first looking both ways when you crossed and following the conventional rules for crossing the street would be fatal or not, you probably wouldn’t live long enough to record the results. One mistake can ruin your life forever. One wrong experience can scar you for life and completely undermine your destiny.
This is not to condemn or make fearful those who have made some major mistakes in their lives. There are many mistakes and experiences that we can recover and rebound from, but there are also some from which we cannot, such as committing suicide. There is no second chance after death, so once you take your own life it is all over.
God, however, is full of love, mercy and grace, and He is well able to redeem and to restore broken lives that have been surrendered to Him. It doesn’t matter if the mistake was pre-marital sex, drug addiction, an unwanted pregnancy, abortion, murder, occultism, cursing God, or any other thing. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love and mercy once we return to Him (Rom 8:31-37).
You don’t have to burn to learn
The whole point of this article is to show you how important and valuable instruction is to our lives. It is vitally important that we remain humble and teachable. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy that your parents, teachers, or leaders are trying to hold out on you because they’re old and don’t want you to grow up and have any fun (which is basically the same hook the serpent used on Eve). Don’t believe the lie that you need to experience something to know if it’s good or not. You don’t have to burn to learn. You don’t have to wait till you catch some type of STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) to know that premarital sex is both wrong and risky. You don’t have to wait till you’re kicked out of school, put in prison, or roaming the streets hungry and homeless to know that drugs and alcohol will destroy your life. You don’t have to wait till ten or fifteen years from now when you’re stuck in a dead-end job and struggling to make ends meet to know that you should have followed your parents’ instructions and continued your education. And you don’t have to wait until you’re dying of cancer at the age of 30 to know that things would have gone much better for you had you only been obedient to God’s commandment to honor your father and your mother (Ex 20:12).
God’s intention has not changed. He intends for man to learn from instruction rather than correction or experience. There are times in all of our lives when correction becomes necessary, but His preference has always been that we learn from His wise instructions and commandments. He has given us a biblical record that is filled with examples of people just like us who made similar mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. These biblical examples are no good to us, however, unless we take the time to read and learn from them.
Don’t be a fool, for the Bible makes it clear that only fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov 1:7). In other words, fools choose to learn only by correction or by experience. The entire book of Proverbs is dedicated to providing wisdom and instruction from a father to a son, promising joy, happiness and length of days to the obedient, but destruction to the simple, disobedient and wicked (see Prov 1-31).
We must make a conscious and determined effort to seek after wisdom and to follow after instruction. We cannot obey what we do not know, so we should continually seek to place ourselves in an environment of learning. Take the time to read God’s Word and make the Bible the most important, well-studied book of your life.
Cartoon images are the copyright © property of Tim Walburg and Mankind Toons
Available in Paperback, Hardcover, and PDF.
Every item in our Resource Center is now on SALE!!! Get something for you and/or choose to bless someone else.
Don't like using PayPal? No problem! Just call our toll-free number to place your order or donate to our embassy using your credit or debit card.
177 Apostles Way, Box JSanta Rosa Beach, FL 324591-888-NOW-4KAI (1-888-669-4524)
Click Here for Email