Friday, August 21, 2009

Four Things to Remember As You Begin School

It is that time of year again! Time to get back to the rigors of education. It is time to once again push back the frontiers of ignorance. Regardless of your educational circumstances, there are several biblical principles that will serve you well as you enter into the next phase of your education.

First, you need to remember that God is to be honored above everything else as you resume your educational endeavors. The dominant cultural values of our society are largely hostile to the God of Heaven and the principles of scripture that we hold dear. If you are being educated in a public school or university the opposition may be exaggerated, but it is present in every realm of our society. I am reminded of the scene in Star Wars when Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are preparing to right an injustice. Obi-Wan warns Luke that, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Such is much of our present world! They have no desire to honor God.

Do not allow yourself to be influenced by those who denigrate our God! You will face opposition from education professionals, the media, other young people, etc. This will be a battle in the most controlled of environments. Stand firm in the truth that God is to be honored above all. Note the following scriptures:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:2-3).

Simply stated, God is to be number one in your life. His word and his truth should be valued above all else. Do not be discouraged by those who will mock his name and try to cause you to doubt in his existence. God is real and he is actively involved in the affairs of men. Any person, thing, philosophy that is given priority to the honor of God and his word is disobedience to the first commandment.

Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar (Romans 3:4);

Paul writes that the truth of God is to supersede everything else in this world. There are times when we might not agree or understand his truth, but we are instructed to follow his word by faith. This truth will serve you well as you interact with negative influences, imperfect teachers and worldly evil.

Second, you should put maximum effort in your studies. It is a poor testimony when one professes to serve the Lord with their words, but their actions display laziness and a lack of effort. All of us are not suited to be PhD scholars, but we are all instructed to put forth our best efforts in all pursuits; in this case our educational endeavor.

In Ecclesiastes 9:10 Solomon writes, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” We need to strive to do the best we can in our academic pursuits. As believers in Christ we are a witness to others. For better or worse, we project our values to everyone around us. Does your work ethic cast a positive light on Christ and his church? Christ is magnified to others through our diligent labors.

If this does not motivate you to put maximum effort in your studies, remember this scripture:

And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23);

The Lord is observing our efforts. He is the only perfect teacher and supervisor and he knows if we are just getting by with minimum effort or working to the best of our abilities. He is pleased when we put forth our best effort. He is reflected in a positive light when we perform well in the academic realm.

Remember to think critically as you move through your studies. In other words, search out the facts. Look for the truth. We have the tendency to take textbooks and people at face value. Beware of this! As born again children of God we have been blessed with the gift of discernment. We have been given a mind and an ability to think and study for ourselves. We also have the Bible, which is the ultimate textbook!

Many of God’s children have had their faith overthrown because they do not follow up what is being taught to them with sound biblical study. The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).” Literature, Science and History need to be measured according to the standard of God’s word. For example, most modern academic texts completely ignore the Genesis account of creation. They take evolution as a fact and completely ignore the scriptural fact that God is creator of all. If you view these writings of men with a critical eye, then you can easily reject such errors.

Sadly, there are those in our world that want to rewrite science and history. They want to completely eradicate God from our culture. You need to be as the Bereans and search the scriptures and reject that which contradicts the word of God.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).

Finally, you should persevere in spite of difficulties. Theodore Roosevelt once said,

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty... I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

This is indeed true for those of you engaged in academic pursuits. If might seem at times that you are the only one who love the Lord. You will grow weary of the constant attacks upon your faith, your beliefs and the God you serve. You might be tempted to give in to the pressures of this world. I encourage you to persevere. Serving God is not an easy path to follow. It is a great challenge, but the blessings far outweigh the burdens. Hang in there! Surround yourselves with Godly mentors and friends that hold the some doctrinal and moral convictions that you value. Keep on keeping on! In Philippians 3:14 Paul writes, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Do not compromise your Godly values. Remember that our ultimate goal in all of life’s pursuits is to live for God.

It is my prayer that all will have a successful year of learning and growing. These truths coupled with prayer and a regular study of scripture will do you well!