Class 25: The Awesome Value of Reading / The Importance of Increasing Knowledge (Part 2)

Class Notes

Today, we are continuing our study which combines two of the letters in Letters to Young Black Men — “The Awesome Value of Reading” and “The Importance of Increasing Knowledge.”

As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Nelson Mandela: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:

Dear Y.B.M.:

I am writing this letter from the beautiful F.W. Bluford Library on the historically black North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina. I am in town for a special meeting that I am to speak at in a local church. But my being here in this particular library is quite fitting since in this letter I wish to encourage you to get a good education. This matter of getting a good education, or rather, increasing your knowledge, is extremely important — so important that even God addresses it in His Word: the Bible. Notice these words from the book of Proverbs: “A wise man will hear and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”

The value of getting a good education or “increasing your knowledge” is all around us. Notice just seven of the many advantages of “increasing your knowledge.”

First, through increasing your knowledge, you will receive personal enrichment and fulfillment.

Second, increasing your knowledge will give you a greater capacity to help others.

Third, getting a good education will, generally speaking, allow you throughout your life to do better financially and materially.

Fourth, increasing your knowledge will help you to deal with the vicissitudes of life better.

Fifth, increasing your knowledge will help you to interact with your family and other people better.

Sixth, getting a good education will allow you to better express yourself through speech and writing.

Seventh, increasing your knowledge can help you to become a more humble individual because you will find, as you increase in knowledge, how ignorant you really are.

Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.

Let us continue looking at what the Bible has to say regarding increasing knowledge.

1. Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Because God is the source of all knowledge, we must approach our learning experience with respect for Him. He made us intelligent creatures, but He did not give us infinite knowledge when we were born. He has decided that it is best for us to learn about His world little by little. God is omniscient — He knows everything there is to know. Obviously, there are many things He wants us to know about Him and there are many things we need to know about the world in order to live and prosper in it. Just as we should not neglect our relationship with God by which we learn more about Him, we should not neglect (or despise) the educational structures that have been set up that teach us more about the world around us.

2. Proverbs 18:15: “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”

Ask yourself the questions: Do I have a heart for knowledge? Do I love to learn? You ought to be interested in your surroundings; you ought to want to know more about what has gone on before in the world. Obviously you will not be interested in every subject area, but you ought to have a special interest in a few areas of knowledge. In fact, the career you settle upon as an adult will likely be tied to your present educational interests. Whether it is math, science, history, literature, technology, geography, or any other subject area, be deliberate about gaining knowledge. Don’t just attend classes to sit and receive whatever is taught or given to you to read. Develop your own educational interests and pursue gaining knowledge in those areas.

3. 1 Corinthians 8:1: “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”

This verse is a warning against becoming proud because of what we know. We used to say that such a person had gotten the “big head.” If you remember the difference between God and yourself, you will find it easier to remain humble no matter how much you learn. God, by His very nature, knows everything. Nobody can surprise God by coming up with something that He is not already aware of. We, on the other hand, were born ignorant. We had to read books, listen to teachers, or complete hands-on experimentation to gain whatever knowledge we do have. And the knowledge that we do possess is only a tiny sliver of all that there is to know. As Daniel J. Boorstin said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” So, don’t let knowledge puff you up. You are not better than anyone else simply because of what you know.

Now, Just Do It.

To complete today’s lesson I want you to do something a little different. Think about the dreams you have or used to have for your life, specifically for your profession. If there were no barriers, what would you love to see come of your life? Make a list of the things that come to mind.

So, what is holding you back from pursuing the aspirations you wrote down? Do they seem impossible for a young man from your family, with your educational background, or with your lack of finances? If so, our next lesson is just what you need.

Let’s Pray.

In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.

If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.