The bad kind of learning
It could be argued that no learning is bad. But, somewhere in the schema of life most of us learn some things that can't be classified as good. You know, like using foul or offensive language, expressing prejudice or bias against another person or class of people, or committing crimes in violation of others. If my mother was writing this blog she could give you a litany of things I learned that would could easily be classified as bad learning. Ask me if i know anything about sitting in a corner, or having my mouth washed out with soap, or waiting until "your daddy get's home". Purists would argue that every learning is beneficial even if only for the lesson learned and stored for the future. Still, there is, at least in my book, some learning that is the bad. Monday, the good. Today, the bad. Friday, the ugly.
Psalm 106 is a recitation of Israel's sinful disobedience. Although the author is anonymous, there's a traditional view that Psalm 106 was sung by the musicians as King David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. In the repetition of their sinful ways this Psalm mentioned a teachable moment when the nation experienced bad learning. The Psalmist wrote---
They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, but they mixed with the
nations and learned to do as they did.
Psalm 106: 34-35, ESV
The setting of this bit of history is a dark hour in their conquest of Canaan and entrance to the land of Promise. God had given them explicit instructions about dealing with the inhabitants of the land. While Israel had been in Egyptian captivity for 430 years the land had been populated by Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. God commanded them to destroy the people who occupied the land. That sounds unjust to the modern mind. But, they were enemies of Israel intent on luring them away from God. Instead of obeying God, Israel partnered with those outside of their faith. They "...mixed with the nations and learned to do what they did". Rather than learning, practicing, and teaching God's way to those who lived to enter the Promised Land, they became like the people who had lived in their land. Their place as God's chosen, particular people was abandoned by their learning from the people around them.
Life want's to teach us valuable lessons. There's a worthy place in our learning systems for the influence and impact of others. Of course our choice of these others is evidence of our wisdom and maturity. From our earliest ages we are taught to be selective in those we wish to emulate. Most of us know we're not supposed to bear the impression of either culture or other people, especially those with questionable moral or ethical standards. This is even more true of those whose influence would guide us from God's instruction or commands.
How does this happen, that we should be so susceptible to the influence of others? it's not that complicated. Scripture identifies our lust for the approval of other humans. Often this craving for the attention of others overrides our desire to honor and obey God. Learning to set God aside for the favor of others is bad learning.
For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
John 12:43, ESV
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men."
Acts 5:29, ESV
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I
were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10, ESV
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak,
not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV
Jesus said, "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" (Matthew 11:29, ESV). That's such a tremendous promise for us egocentric mortals. When we're chasing the things of this world, including this bad level of learning, we'll never find the peace, and rest God promises in life. This bad learning will never fulfill and satisfy our deepest needs.
Learning? One of the joys of this life. it can be the good, the bad, or the ugly. And, that's the deal for this Friday, the ugly.
Be blessed. And, learn.
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