Learn to Do, or Do to Learn?

by Steve Hall

I had warned him…

I had told my friend that I had never played golf before, but he insisted that I join him for a round of 18 holes at a local high-class golf course. By the second hole, and after the numerous groups we had let bypass us, he knew he had made a mistake! I should have had at least a little training on a driving range before attempting an 18 hole course.

Often in life, this is the way it is. We must learn to do something before we can even begin to do it. We must have knowledge of the thing before we can perform it.

But this is not the way it always is with God.

Many times God calls us, not to “learn to do,” but to “do to learn.”

In 2 Peter 1:1 we read of the “like precious faith” that we have obtained in Christ. We then read a list of things beginning in verse five that we are told to add to our faith. It is interesting to note that God begins with faith– believing Him, trusting Him, looking unto Him. We are saved by faith. We walk by faith, live by faith.

The first thing in the list to add to our faith is virtue. This word virtue here actually means “valor” or “courage.” Then the next item in the list is knowledge. Isn’t it interesting that God does not list knowledge first, but faith and trust, and courage?

When God told Abraham to leave his homeland and journey out, He did not tell him anything. The only instruction given to Abraham was to “go,” and in Hebrews 11 we read that he simply obeyed what God said and, “went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise…” God expected Abraham to “do to learn.” He had to step out in obedience, though I’m sure he would have liked more information about God’s plan! Abraham passed the test and was truly blessed as God led him.

God’s people can often be hindered from obeying God because of feelings of ineptness or inadequacy. We feel that we cannot do this thing because we do not know how. We feel we have not learned enough or are not capable enough. There are others more knowledgable and much better at it. We must realize that when we choose to step out onto that seemingly dark, narrow, frightful path of God’s calling (the same path walked by countless followers of God throughout the ages!), simply taking the first steps of obedience to the clear leading of God in an area, He will give light along the way, and He will do the equipping. He will give the knowledge we need to do the job in His own timing.

Certainly there is a learning curve that must take place in any area God is calling us to. Yes, we must “learn to do” at some point. Teachers learn how to teach, mothers learn how to nurture, missionaries learn languages. But the truth is, often this learning takes place as we begin to obey the Lord in spite of our weaknesses and limitations. Fear of failure or discomfort should never stop us from stepping out in obedience and letting God begin His guiding and equipping.

This is the way God works– God calls, we demonstrate faith through our obedience (the “doing”), He equips (the “learning”), we give Him the glory, and our faith is strengthened.

Did you catch that? This amazing interweaving of the human and the divine?

God calls. I demonstrate faith through my obedience. God equips. My life bears fruit, and I give Him the glory. He strengthens my faith.

Then, what happens next?

He calls again. My faith is challenged again.

However, if we never step out of our comfort zone and demonstrate true faith in God by simple obedience, verse eight warns us that it is possible for a child of God to be “barren” and “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” A spirit of fear and unbelief will lead to this dreadful testimony.

What work has God called you to– In the church? In the home? In the community? At the office? Across the street? Across the world? Whatever it is, don’t allow fear and lack of knowledge or inexperience to discourage you. By faith, obey God in whatever He has called you to. And then stand in awe of Him as He teaches you. Let’s learn to “do to learn!”

2 thoughts on “Learn to Do, or Do to Learn?

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