The English dictionary defines learning as:
- The act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill.
- Knowledge or skill gained through schooling or study.
- Behavioral modification especially through experience or conditioning.
We learn in many ways, through observation, experience, and education. But the bottom line on learning, getting smarter, should be measured by the “lasting change it makes in our behavior.” Science says people are getting smarter. Over the past 100 years, the U.S. mean IQ has been on a slow but steady climb. Between 1900 and 2012, it rose nearly 30 points. Yet, our country is over 30 trillion dollars in debt, crime is rising and at an all-time high. Over twenty million people in the U.S. battle addictions, yet we are legalizing more drugs. These are just the tip of the iceberg (See Lostpine’s Study: Has the World Gone Mad?). And to cap this discussion off, the average life expectancy in the United States is expected to drop by 2.26 years from 2019 to 2021, the sharpest decrease during that time among high-income nations. Something is not right here!
Where is the understanding that leads to smarter behavior?
(Exodus 20:16)1NIV New International Version Translations – “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
The ninth commandment given to us from God is about telling the truth. Why would “truth” make the BIG LIST of the top 10? Because you cannot grow smarter on a foundation of lies! Understanding, one of the key attributes of growing smarter, relies on clarity in our communication. What type of communication then do we need to better understand our world?
(Proverbs 18:2) – “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
When someone delights in their own opinion, there are some common traits to look for. First, you will find them argumentative. Discourse, mutual discourse requires mutual respect for all sides. There always seems to be a condescending attitude. When someone is convinced they hold the correct answers, you will find pity for you in their voice. They will be quick, however, should you have a point of value, to change the argument, change the goalposts. Why? Their illusion of knowledge and self-value is necessary to feed their ego. Nowhere in their discourse is pleasure found in being correct, in knowing the truth. Here are a few of society’s reasons for elevating their opinions.
- Few people enjoy punishment. Avoidance is one of the greatest motivators for lying. Sometimes it is to protect others from punishment. Avoiding physical harm is often the basis for untruthfulness.
- Personal rewards require time and work. Some rewards may not be available or even obtainable by being truthful.
- Social pressures to increase one’s popularity frequently bend the truth. Just listen to a politician and their promises. Much of a person’s behavior is often to assure their privacy and protection.
- Finally, the greatest motivation to ignore facts, and to elevate one’s opinion is to exercise power over others by controlling knowledge. We see that today within Social Media, search engines, and Cable News.
How then can we get smarter, change our behavior to be more Christ-like, and avoid the downhill slide our society is going through these days? To begin with, know that any untruth is a sin! Sins are anything contrary to the law or will of God. Society cannot define sin! Only God who is Truth and Honesty can establish the boundaries of humanity which should not be crossed. Anything else is a lie. When we start believing our lies, we start justifying sinful behavior. Lying then becomes a pathway to a long, slow walk away from God. This requires each of us to know God, know His Truth, and labor to follow His will. Notice the word is labor. Humanity is imperfect and will be so until the return of our Savior. The good news is that Christ has reconciled us (made right) to God. To know that we are getting smarter is to measure life against God’s Truth and to stand against the lies of the world. When we have been wrong, the truth hurts. Repentance is the healing ointment. Telling the truth does not mean that the world will accept you. Most of the world will hate you.
(2 Timothy 4:3-4) – “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
We began this lesson by stating that you grow smarter in many ways, through observation, experience, and education.
- Open your eyes and observe our world! Pain, death, drugs, crime, disease, war, and debt are just the breadcrumbs left by a sinful society. Help change it!
- Do not become part of the experiences that negatively impact lives. Children need our protection from society until they can learn to trust God for who He is. Satan is after the children, make your experiences in life a mirror of God’s Truth.
- We have removed God from education, we have stripped our history out of the books. That has not gone well. Pray that God’s rich history, His Holy Word, is placed back again into the communication to our nation.
(John 3:19) – “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
Not only do people today not want the truth, but they will also hate anyone who attempts to tell them the truth. Truth is hate to those who hate the truth.
- Make a list of the places where you see the most lying going on?
- Ideas to Explore: Now try to determine why they made your list? What was it you saw in their communications that you did not trust?
- What were the consequences of those in your group telling the lies? What happens when they are caught in a lie?
- Ideas to Explore: Consequences might be loss of trust, public apology, removal from the communication platform, litigation, increase in popularity, more power, etc.
- What societal lie are you troubled by the most? What do you do about them?
- Ideas to Explore: Lies to our children, lies from our leaders, lies from our friends, family, lies from our children, etc.
- How do you tell if you have heard the truth?
- Ideas to Explore: Trust the source, do your research, compare it to something in the Bible, etc.
- Where might the world be lying to you and how can you bolster your spiritual protections against those lies?
- Ideas to Explore: Become more open-minded, expand your sources for information, seek only trusted friends for advice, etc.
- Is there any justifiable lie?
- Ideas to Explore: Many believe that the end justifies the mean? Is there any lie that is justifiable in God’s Eyes?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations