The words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy are telling: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim 4:12). Apparently, Paul had reason to believe that there might be some who because of their advanced years would be reluctant to be taught by someone younger in the faith. Anticipating this, he admonishes his son in the faith to be an example to believers in more than just words, but in qualities befitting a servant of the Lord. The snare of thinking that we are beyond the point of teachability—for whatever reason—is a trap that can easily snag any of us. Perhaps it is because we have been a Christian for many years that we bristle at the thought of being corrected by someone other than ourselves. Or maybe because of those we associate with that we feel we are beyond instruction in a certain issue. Or maybe it is just a matter of simply refusing to admit that we are wrong—a lack of biblical understanding (and an abundance of spiritual pride!). For whatever reason, the excuses for not having an openness of heart and an attitude that is "easy to be entreated" (James 3:17) are difficult to justify in the light of Scripture—even though we may not be conscious of harboring these attitudes. The Bible is replete with examples of those who thought they were beyond teachability. The Pharisees scolded the man born blind who, after receiving his sight extolled the One who had opened his eyes. His clarion testimony only served to infuriate the proud Pharisees. Incensed, they chided "Thou wast altogether born in sins, dost thou teach us?" (v. 34). They could not bear to think of someone less instructed than they to be in the position of teaching them. Likewise, the nation of
We are tempted to dismiss these examples of unteachable attitudes by unsaved men and women as inapplicable to the Christian. Yet at it's core is the attitude that the believer must also do battle with continually—the attitude of sin. As long as the "old man" is allowed to get some air, he will make every effort to revive and stir up trouble. Thus the exhortation to "put off" this corrupt expression of our former self. (Eph. 4:22). The Corinthians forgot this truth when being corrected by the Apostle Paul for their blatant carnality. They had become puffed up in their knowledge to the point that they resisted instruction from the very one who was directly responsible for their faith in Christ. Amazing! The Galatians also demonstrated that they had become calloused because of giving ear to the leaven of false doctrine that had permeated the ranks. They questioned Paul's integrity and sincerity causing him to exclaim: "O foolish Galatians! Who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?" (Gal. 3:1) Yes, the Lord's people (you and me) can also allow an attitude of unteachability to insidiously creep into the life. Sin and pride are the twin culprits in all these cases—they were then and they are now.
But not all the examples in the Bible are so dismal. Apollos, a man cited as being eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures, instructed in the way of the Lord and fervent in spirit still had the humbleness of mind to be taught the way of God more perfectly by