We planted our first garden 46 years ago. Even though Keith had been brought up with gardens, we were both tyros, especially considering the climate we were in, different from either of our childhoods. He set me up with all the equipment I would need, and most of which I still use all these years later: canners, mason jars, jar lifters, lids, rings, funnels, sieves, lime, vinegar, canning salt, and cookbooks, I had them all.
One of the things I knew I wanted to make was a batch of dill pickles. I love dill pickles. I could eat a whole jar. So I looked all over for recipes and found one that was fairly easy. I did exactly as the recipe said and one afternoon in July lined my shelves with a dozen pints of dill pickles. The recipe said to let them sit a few weeks, as I recall, so I did, and had not gotten around to trying them yet.
Finally we had company one evening and Keith grilled some hamburgers. The perfect meal for my pickles, I thought, and proudly set them on the table. I made a point to put the Mason jar on the table so our guests would know they were homemade. Too bad for me as it turned out. Keith’s pal took one bite of pickle and tried very hard to keep his face from screwing up, but not entirely succeeding.
“Wow!” he finally choked out. “These are DIIIIIIILLLLL pickles.”
I took a bite myself and resolved not only to toss the recipe but every jar in the pantry. The recipe had called for four tablespoons of dried dill seed per pint. That’s one-fourth cup, people. After all these years of experience, I would have looked at that recipe and immediately known something was off, but then I was a newbie and didn’t know any better.
Ah, but we make the same sort of mistakes as Christians. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Heb 5:14.
I learned from my mistake with the pickles and tried again, and again, and again, until I finally got it right. But I would never have gotten it right without all that practice. That’s what it takes with the Word. No, it doesn’t take a college degree to understand the Bible and knowing exactly what to do to begin your relationship with Christ is pretty simple, but the Word of God is a profound book. If all you do is read a chapter a day, you are missing 90% of its power.
I have seen too many young people, especially those “raised in the church,” spout off simplistic definitions and explanations and think that’s all there is to it, completely missing the depths that can be plumbed with some diligent work. I’ve seen too many older Christians who have relied on those one-dimensional catch-phrases instead of growing to the height they should have after all those decades as a Christian that they are so proud of. And I have seen too many old chestnuts that are patently wrong passed from generation to generation.
If reading Hebrews 7 doesn’t send you immediately back to Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, if seeing the word “promise” doesn’t make you instantly check for a reference to the Abrahamic promise, if reading the sermons in Acts doesn’t make you realize exactly how important it is to know the Old Testament, you have not been “exercising your senses” in the Word.
Please be careful of anything that sounds too pat, that makes arguments based on simplistic definitions or the spelling of English words (“Godliness is just a contraction of God-like-ness”). Do not repeat anything you did not check out with careful study yourself. And if you are still quite young, please check out your understanding with someone who is not only older, but well-versed in the Scriptures, and be willing to listen and really consider. Do you know who I have the worst trouble with in my classes? People who were “raised in the church.” They are far less likely to even consider that they might be wrong about something and to change their minds than a brand new Christian, converted from the world with a boatload of misconceptions.
You cannot know too much scripture. It is impossible to be “over-educated” in the Word. The more you know, the more motivation you will have to live up to your commitment to God, the better person you will be, and the fewer embarrassing mistakes you will make when you open your mouth. Practice, practice, practice, or making pickles will be the least of your worries.
…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Col 3:10