~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Pastor Brad Ettore. You can hear the whole sermon, The Role of Humility in Our Lives (part 9), from by clicking here.
We want to know God’s definition of humility. The World has it’s definitions of humility, but we want to understand what God thinks about it! When we spend time studying what God’s Word says about humility, it renews our mind to a correct view of humility. The process of studying out humility is not meant to be a passive one. It is not meant to simply augment our previous understanding of humility. God’s definition of humility is the ONLY definition of humility. The Biblical definition of humility is THE definition of humility. We are to be replacing our previous understanding of humility with this Biblical definition. The result will be that our life will begin to reflect the truths that we are taking in.
It is great to hear a message on a Sunday morning, but there is only so much that can be done in a 40 minute timeframe. Hearing a message one time will not change your life. In fact, if you were to measure “units of absorption” from one 40-minute message, that singular exposure to the Biblical truth that the message contained would probably equal about “1 unit of absorption.” Using that same scale, it is our estimate that we would need about 100 “units of absorption” before a scriptural truth actually becomes a part of us – such that it is the literal way we now think. When a Biblical truth has been full absorbed, it is no longer an idea we know of, but instead the way we think! Listening to the same 40 minute message for a second time would likely gain you 5 more “units of absorption.” Listening to that same message a third time will allow you to gain approximately another 20 “units of absorption.” So, if you were to listen to a message 3 times, you would not be at 26 “absorption units” for that particular truth. The difference repetition makes in your absorption of truths is exponential in nature.
If we are not about being transformed, what’s the point? We go to church to be transformed. The fellowship and connection we experience on Sundays is great, but we are all hungry for transformation. A key to being transformed is to know how to go about being transformed – and we do that by changing our thinking. Listening to a message more than once is a great first step in that direction. Another powerful practice (in terms of absorbing the truth contained in a sermon more fully) is to take notes as you hear the sermon. Even if you take no other notes, simply write down the scripture references so that you can later go in you own Bible and spend time studying those scriptures for yourself. Studying the scriptures yourself lets you see the verse(s) in context and verify, for yourself, that the minister is using the scriptures accurately. That simple practice not only serves as a safe-guard against teaching that is inaccurate, but also helps you “own” the truth contained in those scriptures for yourself. You will never own a particular truth just because someone else said it. You have to know for yourself “this is the Word of God!”
You have to know the Word of God for yourself because trials and tribulations will come because of the Word that you received. Mark chapter 4 guarantees that. It says that after the sower sows the Word, trials and tribulations will come “for the Word’s sake.” When those trials come – and come specifically to challenge that Word that you have received – you are going to need to KNOW that “this is the Word of God!” Hockey players need to know which goal to defend – before they take to the ice to play hockey. Likewise, we need to know that a truth is indeed from the Word before we get challenged because of that Word that we received. In those trials, we need to say “I don’t care what I am seeing, I don’t care what I am feeling, I don’t care what others are saying . . . THE WORD OF GOD SAYS ___________________.” If we only have that truth from the Word based on some preacher saying it to us 6 months ago in a certain sermon, that truth is not going to stand the test. We have to have spent the time with that truth ourselves – studying the Word, seeing the scriptures – so that we know for a fact “that’s what the Word says.”
If you take down the scriptures from a sermon and later spend a few hours studying out those scriptures in the Word – using cross references to track down related verses – you will likely add between 30 and 40 “units of absorption” with that one time of study. If you have listened to that message 3 times and also studied for two or so hours on your own, you have totaled 50-60 “units of absorption.” At this point, you will start to feel pregnant with this truth you have beens studying. You can feel the truth taking form in your heart, but it is still not transforming your life. You are pregnant, but you have to bring the truth to fruition. If you keep up your studying at this point, at some point, in the middle of your study, you are going to get a revelation and you are going to say “I get it!” You just got the truth by revelation! That revelation will literally change the way that you think about that subject – and when it changes the way that you think, about that subject, the end result will be that it will change the way that you live!
Once you “get it” like this – it is not a white-nuckle approach at that point. It’s actually YOU. That truth has become part of YOU. It is how you think. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .” (Rom. 12:2). This is how the transformation process happens – by taking truths from the Word and meditating on them in their various facets until we “get it!” Being transformed by God’s Word is not a great mystery. The process is sure-fire, but it is a process. The question is whether we will put in the repetitive work that is required to have our thinking renewed according to the Word – and thereby have our lives be transformed such that they line up with it!