A Time Investment

One of the major improvements in modern life is in the area of meal preparation.  It was not that many years ago that a woman would have to rise before light to begin making breakfast for the family.  Then, after all were fed and off to work or school, she immediately began cooking the noon meal.  This same cycle was repeated for the evening meal as well.  This lifestyle was immortalized in the 60s song, “Ode to Billie Joe,” in which the mother said, “I’ve been cooking all morning and you haven’t touched a single bite.”

In the modern world in which we live, many food items, including entire meals, come in pre-cooked, individual portions that may be warmed in an oven or a microwave in mere minutes.  No one claims that all our frozen, freeze-dried, microwave-it-back-to-life food products are as tasty or as healthy as the things our grandmothers used to cook, but we all enjoy the convenience of having a meal in the relative blink of an eye.

Microwave technology has spoiled us.  Now we are not content to wait for anything in life.  We want instant gratification, whatever it is we’re seeking.  We are no longer willing to commit any more than mere moments in a given period of time to the pursuit of anything we desire.  For many aspects of life, this kind of mentality is simply frustrating to the one who is waiting, and annoying to the one trying to fulfill a request.  In spiritual matters, this kind of mentality can be crippling to one’s development.

A story is told about N.B. Hardeman, who was one of the most gifted preachers of the early 20th century.  As he visited a man’s farm, the farmer rattled off statistic after statistic about his enterprise.  Brother Hardemen remarked that if he (Hardeman) had that kind of memory, he would memorize the entire New Testament.  The farmer responded that he couldn’t remember the Bible because his memory failed him.  Brother Hardeman later lamented that such a statement was not the result of a failed memory, but of failing desire.  If that farmer had been as interested in the Bible as he was in farming, he would have known much more about God’s book.

This is the challenge for each of us today.  Preachers often receive compliments on the way in which they expound the scriptures or on their knowledge of biblical things, as though these attributes were a gift laid upon them through no effort of their own.  While it is true that some are more gifted at teaching and public speaking then others, the fact remains that one who becomes proficient in the scriptures acquired that proficiency only through long hours of study and practice.

Jesus took nearly three years to prepare the apostles to preach and teach the gospel.  Paul, after his conversion, went away for about three years (Gal. 1:15-18) before coming back to begin his ministry.  We presume he was learning from the Lord during this time, for he says that he received the gospel through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11, 12).  He also spent two years teaching the brethren in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9, 10).

The point of this discussion is that proficiency in the scriptures requires a time investment by each one of us.  This is why Paul exhorted us to be diligent with God’s word so we know how to properly handle it (2 Tim. 2:15).  It is why he told us to teach faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).  It is why each of us must make the time to give attention to God’s word on a regular basis and in a systematic fashion.  Our faith will only grow to maturity in a crock-pot environment.  There is no such things as microwave faith.