In his 1644 essay “Of Education,” English poet John Milton explained the purpose of learning from a Christian perspective: “The end, then, of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest, by possessing our souls of true virtue, which, being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection.”
Godliness is both our motivation and our purpose for learning and wisdom. That being so, we shouldn’t pursue it as a tiresome duty, but as a vital desire—in the same sense as we’re to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6). But sins such as pride and laziness get in the way.
Where, then, to begin? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Why? Because God is the Creator. He made it all! That makes Him the source of all knowledge. A right relationship with Him is therefore the key to all learning, just as godliness is the motivation and true purpose for all learning. That’s rather different from merely human conceptions of learning and education, which tend to focus on a job, social status, and financial security.
What else do we understand about learning in these initial verses of Proverbs? We see that learning and wisdom are the foundation for other virtues, including prudence, righteousness, justice, and discretion (vv. 3–4). We also see that learning is ongoing—the wise are always looking to listen and add to their wisdom (v. 5). They’ve never “arrived.” In this way, wisdom distinguishes itself from foolishness and immaturity (v. 7). Finally, our first source of learning is our parents, and they should thus be honored (vv. 8–9).
>> We are commanded to love God with all our heart and our mind (Luke 10:27). Of course, godly learning involves more than just one’s mind, but certainly not less. Learning is loving plus obedience!
We value learning and knowledge because we serve the God of Truth. You created our minds, and we submit them to You. Refine our thinking and train us to recognize how everything relates to You.