Christian educators Muriel and Duane Elmer have synthesized a theory of learning they call simply the “Learning Cycle.” In this model, it’s not enough to acquire or retain information. We must also value and apply it. In the long run, true learning changes our habits and character. Learning is therefore “making a clear connection between the truth and the practice of the truth. Only when the learner grasps the connection between truth and living and begins to practice the truth can we confidently assume that learning has actually occurred.”
In other words, knowing must always be followed by doing. This is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Philippians: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (v. 9). That last sentence meant they don’t need to do this on their own. God would be with them, guiding and empowering them as they sought to grow in obedience.
Paul presented himself as a model to imitate, not in a prideful manner, but only insofar as He followed Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17). We can infer that his exhortations to them involve lessons they’d already begun to learn from him: to rejoice (Phil. 4:4), to be gentle (v. 5), to pray (v. 6), to rest in God’s peace (v. 7), to think about excellent things (v. 8), to support the ministry of the gospel (v. 10; see Phil. 2:25–30), and to be content (Phil. 4:12). What’s the secret? To depend on God, not ourselves: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (v. 13).
As a teacher, inviting students to imitate our behavior is a bold step (v. 9). That means we cannot just talk the talk but must walk the walk. Anything less is not godly teaching or learning!
>> God works in important ways through mentoring relationships. In this way, mature believers can help less mature ones on the path of love and righteousness. The best part is that the wisdom and strength for growth come from the Lord!
Today we thank You for the growth You have caused in our lives. Lead us to opportunities to mentor younger believers in the wisdom You have given us. We desire to be Your instruments in training others.