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Lessons From The Farm -"Playing School"

by Bob Yarbrough

For those of you who know my family, you know that teaching runs deep in our veins.  My mother taught kindergarten and my dad taught adult Bible classes. My wife’s mother was a school secretary and her dad preached and taught Bible classes, while her sister was a high school counselor. Our daughter taught math in high school and her husband teaches Biblical Counseling in seminary.  Our son preaches and teaches Bible Exposition in Seminary.  My wife taught various grades in elementary school, and I taught and was a school principal for my entire career.   You see, we are and have been a family steeped in the education process. Teaching runs in our “family blood.”

So it was no surprise when our two youngest granddaughters, Kayci (10) and Jill (9), decided that they wanted to teach school.  For the last few years whenever they come to the farm, they disappear into a corner room to set up shop and entertain themselves with the most elaborate elementary classroom one can imagine.  Some children require a lot of attention from a variety of stimuli; but not these two.  When they come to the farm they are “as happy as a lark” entertaining themselves by playing school. These girls can manage to stay on task for a day at a time, emerging from their imaginary “classroom” only when it is time to eat!

The way we look at it, this activity has several important benefits for the girls and for us.  First, the girls are doing some very constructive stuff.  They are reinforcing much of their regular classwork and homework activities.  They are sounding their regular school assignments off of each other and reinforcing their learning with repetition and creativity. Second, for us, it is cheap entertainment.  While some children complain of being “bored” unless they are going or doing things that cost,  these two girls entertain themselves with the barest of classroom essentials. (Come to think of it, most good teachers have always done more with less.)  All we do is provide a few essentials – paper, pencils, markers and marker board, manila files, a few books, etc. – and they are in business!  Every once in a while they will need a copy of something and we do that.  They make report cards for their fictitious pupils, and they keep us abreast of the progress of the instruction. The room is organized and instructional materials are well placed; but at the end of the day they always clean up their workplace.  So, learning, studying, and instruction are important activities when our granddaughters come to visit; and that is the point of this lesson from the farm.

I want to focus on the idea of study and learning as it relates to the Bible, the written word of God.  Just as my granddaughters diligently study and prepare their lessons and “play school,” so believers in Jesus Christ need to study, learn, sharpen, and hone their skills in the sacred scriptures.  Several verses quickly come to mind in this regard.  The first verse, 2 Timothy 2:15, encourages believers to study so that they can rightly handle (divide) the word of truth.  The goal is to be a worker approved of God with no reason to be ashamed when his work is inspected.  The idea behind the word study means to be diligent and zealous.  To “rightly divide” suggests cutting something straight.  Therefore, an approved worker diligently studies the Word and seeks to apply it to his life in order to maintain a straight course in his walk with God.  Each believer is a workman that will be either ashamed or approved.  To be approved means that one has been tested and found to be acceptable by God as he rightly uses the Word.  An ashamed worker is one whose work is below standard thus resulting in a loss of reward.  When the Lord comes to judge our works (1 Cor. 3:13-15; Rom. 14:10-12), then it will be revealed how carefully and diligently we have handled the word of God.

The second verse of importance in this discussion is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  Because the Bible is inspired (God breathed), it has eternal benefits for those who are “schooled” by it.   According to Wiersbe, the Word of God is profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right).  A believer who studies the Word and applies it will grow in grace and avoid the stumbling blocks of the world. The psalmist David declared, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway (Psa.119:105).”  Further, it will equip us for the Lord’s service according to verse 17.  The idea of this verse is that the believer will be complete, competent, and furnished for the work God wants us to do.  So, the real purpose of study is not just to understand doctrinally what the Bible says, or even to defend the faith.  The main purpose of Bible study is to equip believers to do the work of God.  He has chosen us to be His hands and feet of ministry in these difficult days.  God wants us to be in fit condition, and this is done by the study of His Word.

One final verse is helpful to this lesson.  The psalmist said, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psa. 119:11).” (Read all 176 verses of Psalms 119 and note the number and variety of references to the Word of God.  What did you find?)  This verse in its entirety stands as a powerful exhortation; but the emphasis to our lesson is contained in the first half of the verse.  The “storing up” of the Word implies the memorization of scripture.  Memorizing Bible verses is almost a lost art with most believers today. How sad when we remember that God said His word would equip the believer for serving Him. Yet many believers give testimony in support of the value of memorizing scripture.  Just as repetition and memorization are valuable teaching strategies in educational instruction (such as spelling rules and math facts), so is the importance of the memorization of God’s word.  Recently our church started a program of memorization among our young people. We agreed to send a teen to camp if they memorized a large number of Bible verses.  The leadership strategically selected the verses (about 300) in a variety of categories (The Christian Walk, Prayer, Favorite Psalms, The Future, The Roman Road, etc.).  In order to earn their way to camp the students must memorize these scriptures.  The psalmist asked and then answered his question, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word (Psa. 119:9).”

I don’t know if Kayci or Jill will become teachers.  God knows.  But I know they are getting a lot of practice along those lines.  And I have observed that they are pretty good at it.  They are also studying and memorizing scriptures.  That will put them in good stead along the road of life, and it will help them serve the Lord in a greater way.  That pleases their parents and their grandparents very much.  And I know it pleases the Lord!

Bob Yarbrough is a  retired Educator who lives in Terrell, TX




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10