Bristol, Virginia

I Have Learned – In the School of the Spirit

Did you know that we are in the school of the Holy Spirit? We never actually graduate from His university. We simply go on to the next grade, even, if I may, when we graduate to heaven.

The Apostle Paul, in Phil 4, said “…I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (v.11b) First, Paul says that he learned. That means he was taught by his teacher the Holy Spirit. Now we know from the following verse that Paul was taught with a variety of experiences.

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (v.12)

We also know from other passages that Paul was stoned, shipwrecked, rejected by his generation, whipped and more. But Paul “learned.” I am afraid many of us go through similar trying circumstances by fail to learn. The Israelites wandered the desert for 40 years because they refused to learn. We should not be like the donkey, who has to be pulled and pushed into submission.

Paul said that he learned to be content. The Greek word translated as content is autarkēs and means “independent of external circumstances.” In other words, he was not swayed and moved by all of the externals. He learned to be guided by the internal moving of the Holy Spirit. Is Paul somehow special that only he can learn this and other lessons of the Spirit? No. We too can learn. It is the Holy Spirit’s great pleasure to bring us to new grades.

Learning requires humility and a teachable spirit. Jesus said:

I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes… Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25;28-29)

So the first step in being a student in God’s school is to become a babe. Little babies know nothing. They are blank slate so to speak. Second, we are to come to Him. This reveals our dependence on Him. Next, we are to take His yoke (burden). Imagine if a 2nd grader on his first day of school looked at the curriculum of the year and said “These lessons are useless,” folded his arms refused to learn. I assure you he would not make it to the 3rd grade. Lastly Jesus said we are to learn from Him because He is gentle and lowly. He didn’t extol His ability to heal or do miracles but emphasized His gentleness and humility. How about that as something to learn? It makes me think of the confession of David: “Your gentleness has made me great.” (Psalm 18:35)

So friends, you too can learn in the school of the Holy Spirit. Oh and by the way, the test is open book and you can share notes.

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