An ‘Unhappy Business’: The Christian and Learning

By T. M. Moore

I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. Ecclesiastes 1:13

The Call to Learning
The basic meaning of the word “disciple” is “learner.” A disciple is one who learns, for our purposes, one who learns Jesus and follows in the way of life He lived and taught (cf. Matt. 11:29; Eph. 4:17-24).

Learning does not come easy to most of us. Think of all those years we spent in school, daydreaming about when the days of books, lectures, and tests would finally be over, and we could get on with what we really wanted to do in life.
Human beings are natural learners, but only within certain rather narrow parameters. When it comes to learning things beyond what we enjoy and need in order to get by, most of us look at learning as a chore, a kind of necessary evil, an “unhappy business.”

That’s the way Solomon described the call to a life of learning. Actually, the Hebrew is even more severe—“an evil matter” with which God has “afflicted” the children of men. And yet it pleases God to “afflict” human beings with the responsibility of learning. Doesn’t God usually bless us with good things? Why should He afflict us with this unhappy, brain-wracking business of learning?

The Way to Wisdom
Because learning is the way to wisdom, and wisdom is the lifestyle that expresses the pleasure and purpose of God, especially as that is revealed in the life, death, resurrection, and reign of Jesus Christ (cf. Col. 2:3). God calls us to be wise, and wisdom comes, first, from fearing God Who calls us to be wise (Ps. 111:10), and then from searching diligently for wisdom through the hard, “unhappy” work of learning.

But why should learning be such an unhappy business? Primarily because we have to work hard at it if…

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An ‘Unhappy Business’: The Christian and Learning