READ: Philippians 4:10-13
- Learn. Sounds simple enough. But this is not merely increasing information. This knowledge carries with it a more moral or ethical sense. This learning has to do with how what we know shapes how we live.The term occurs 25 times in the New Testament. Sixteen of those uses are in Paul’s writings. Only once does it have a sense of information gathering and that use (2 Tim 3:7) is negative. Paul says some continue getting information but never do anything with it.
- So, what kind of learning occurs that is not information accumulation? The common term is experiential; the kind of learning that is based on what a person experiences in life. From those life experiences, maturity develops. However, that kind of learning is never merely experiencing the experience. That learning requires reflection. The educational concept was spoken of by John Dewey, but the practice is as old as humanity.
- Merely going through an experience guarantees nothing. Effective reflection on those experiences has the potential to produce new perspectives and responses to life in the future. So, what Paul seems to imply in this text is that he reflected upon his life experiences and in the process, learned to be content. Apparently, he did what he invites all followers of Jesus to do, “think on these things” (Phil 4:9). That’s what being a disciple is (same root word as learn), reflecting Biblically on our experiences to develop a greater level of maturity in life.
- What is your favorite means of reflecting on your experiences?
- Describe how your reflections have produced maturity after coming through a specific life experience.
- Why do you think most people fail to take the time to reflect on their experiences (and thus miss the learning opportunity they provide)?
PRAY: Start by thanking God for giving you learning experiences. Pray that you can grow through all of life’s circumstances. Ask God to bring maturity through your reflections.