Life in the Spirit

In Pursuit of Higher Learning

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Being present at a graduation ceremony regardless of what level of education, is a thrilling and exhilarating experience, especially if you personally or some one very close to you is on the verge of becoming a graduate, and better yet graduating with high honors, or a recipient of a reward. Every graduation is a mile stone, an achievement in higher learning, and a momentous occasion.
The greatest concern however is that, people are not as exuberant, zealous, and enthusiastic in pursuing a higher learning in the spiritual aspect of life as they do for the physical mundane life. Apparently it has not yet dawn on the mind of many people that there is definitely and practically a life in the flesh, and a life in the spirit.
I have no qualm about anyone seeking to improve his/her lot in life by raising their standard of education, thus enabling them to earn a better salary and improve their living conditions. As the common saying goes, “If you think knowledge is expensive, then try ignorance.” Ignorance I believe plays a major role in the plight of human misery. The Lord said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (Hos.4:6) A heavy prize to pay for ignorance.
The serious concern is, the seemingly total neglect, and absent mindedness of persons to pursue a higher learning in the life in the spirit as they pursue that of the flesh.
In reality, the same emphasis which is placed in pursuing a higher degree of learning in the physical realm in order to gain recognition, fame, and material gains, should also be placed in attaining a higher plateau in the spiritual life, because in the final analysis the life in the spirit is everlasting and far superior the life in the flesh.
The apostle Paul wrote: “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom.6:19).
Similarly the members of the human body can be used to either promote the growth and development of the human life, or promote the growth, and development of the life in the spirit.
There is wisdom of men –the wisdom of this age; which is doomed to pass away, and there is wisdom of the Spirit which endures to everlasting life.
In every aspect of life, the main objective is of paramount importance. The objective of Higher learning in the physical realm is to improve the quality and conditions of life, and to attain material gains. Unfortunately human wisdom and all its material gains are fleeting and temporary, and worse of all, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction” (1Tim.6:9).
Many people after their graduation are under severe stress to repay their student loans, and even after they have succeeded in paying it off, may not even live long enough to enjoy the fruit of their labor. The reality of the whole situation is, we should all take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
And even if one is successful and fortunate enough to have his/her heart’s content, and can say to his/her soul, Soul, you have ample goods, a good pension plan laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry; There is the likelihood that God may say to this individual, “You Fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? ” (Lk.12:19-20)
In light of this therefore an appeal goes to all those who have the fear of God in them to shun this perspective and objective of higher learning. Do not be conformed to the ideals of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, in order to test and approve what is God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.
If money is the rationale and main objective in pursuing higher learning, then one should seriously take heed to the Apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy which states, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs” (1Tim.6:10).
In pursuing a higher learning, a God fearing individual should, shun the desire to be rich, and the love of money by which men fall into temptation, into a snare, and into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction, and aim at the things that are truly worthwhile and re-assuring.
They should make it their aim to pursue:-
  • Righteousness – the state or condition which has been imputed to man by God’s grace; but nevertheless has to be developed and perfected by practicing the law of righteousness. As it is written: “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray, he who practices righteousness is righteous just as he is righteous” (1jn.3:7). Incidentally, this righteousness is not based on man’s standard of right and wrong for there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. This righteousness is based entirely on all of God’s commandments, which according to the scriptures, “All your commandments are righteousness”
  • Godliness – holy living an absolute essential. It is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1Tim.4:8). Unfortunately, this state of life has been perverted by men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means of (material and financial) gains. God fearing people have been warned to, ‘Withdraw themselves from such people, because godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and it is certain we can carry nothing out, but if we have food and clothing with these we shall be content. One should therefore avoid covetousness, and be content with such things as he/she has.
  • Faith –Believing that God is who he is, and a re-warder of those who diligently seek him. And, having confidence in the testimony that God has given us with regards to his Son through the medium of the scriptures, preaching, and the gospel. The testimony which God has given concerning his Son is that, “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has (the real) life; he who has not the Son of God has not (the real) life” (1Jn.5:11-12). John said, “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” This assurance should give everyone the motivation and impetus to pursue a higher learning in the life in the Spirit.
  • Love – the unselfish benevolent concern one exhibits towards God the Father, Jesus Christ, and others. Love towards God the Father and Jesus Christ is manifested in the act of obedience as alluded to by Jesus Christ who said, “If you love me keep my commandments’. ‘He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.’ And, ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” (Jn.14:15, 21, 23).
 This act of obedience or love is a demonstration of true faith in God. Such love constrains us from committing evil, and propels us to love one another as we love ourselves.
The remarkable thing about this love is that it is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrong doings, takes no delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and never fails.
The true expression of this love is by loving God with all our heart, with all our understanding, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
The application of such love gives boldness; because whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment; because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
  • Patience – the ability to bear trials without grumbling. This attribute is produced from a good and noble heart who hears the word of God, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. This is figurative to the seed which fell on good soil and produced a crop. Patience is the product of suffering, tribulation, and the testing of our faith, which in turn produces character. Hence, we are to do everything without complaining or arguing, so that we may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which we shine like stars in the universe as we hold on to the word of life’ (Phil.2:14-16).
  • Gentleness – the mild spirit, combined with tenderness, is actually a required spiritual clothing for the man of God: For it is written; “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col.3:12). This quality is essential to how Christians live in this world.
They are to be reminded to, “Be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle to all, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2).
They as servants of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition.
This quality plays an important role in how one restores a weak brother. We have been admonished saying, :Brethren, if a man is overtaken or caught in a sin, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Gal.6:1).
It is an essential ingredient in fulfilling our high calling. We are urged to, “Live a life worthy of the calling we have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3).
It is an incorruptible ornament in a marriage relationship. Wives are admonished saying; “Do not let your beauty be that of the outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1Pet.3:3-4).
In like manner, one should not let the pursuit of higher learning be that of attaining an accreditation for a bachelor or a master’s degree, but as children of God who have received the free gift of eternal life from God through Jesus Christ, should make it their aim to pursue a degree in glory through the discipline of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Believe it or not, “We all with unveiled faces are beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his image from one degree of glory to another, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2Cor.3:18).
The highest degree or honor one can ever achieve is an immortal glorified body, which is synonymous to everlasting life, and will be accredited by Jesus Christ at his return. This degree in glory varies from one degree to another, similarly to that of the sun which has one glory, the moon another, the stars another and every star out of the billions differs from star to star in glory.
It is therefore imperative that we take heed to the apostle Paul’s admonition who wrote; “I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which he will manifest in his own time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion (1Tim 6:11-16).
Remember, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh, will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal.6:7-8). The irony of truth is, pursuing a college degree is sowing to the flesh, and will eventually reap corruption. No offense intended.
With brotherly love
Lucius Joseph
Essentials of Life Ministry Inc

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