Class 31: “The Marks of a Truly Educated Man” / “Please Learn ‘Yourself’ a Little Etiquette” (Part 1)

Today, we are beginning a new study which combines two of the letters in Letters to Young Black Men — “The Marks of a Truly Educated Man” and “Please Learn ‘Yourself’ a Little Etiquette.”

As we begin this lesson, consider these words from T.S. Eliot. He said, “It is part of the function of education to help us escape — not from our own time, for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our own time.”

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

Dear Y.B.M.:

This letter is being written from the beautiful Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama.

If you are an upwardly mobile individual, you may have wondered from time to time, how does one know that he is educated? In other words, what are the marks of an educated man?

Here are some of the marks that I have observed about truly knowledgeable people or those considered truly educated:

First, they have a healthy and humble respect and reverence for Almighty God. This principle of an educated man is found in the Book of Wisdom, which is the book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible. The verse reads: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

A person who does not acknowledge and reverence God Almighty is not considered a wise or educated man. In fact, God considers him a fool. “He is ignorant and knoweth nothing.” No matter how many years of schooling he has behind him, if he does not recognize and respect and fear Almighty God, he is a fool according to the Word of God. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

There is an old negro saying that also comes to mind here: “Education without salvation is damnation.”

The other day I saw a very striking sign at a church. It read:

The dead atheist
The dead agnostic
and the dead saint
All believe God exists now.

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

After working through the previous lessons on getting an education and making the most of your studies, this lesson is beneficial for providing a introspective check-up on the progress of your educational experience. We will be working through the ten marks of a truly educated man and see what the Bible has to say about these matters.

First, a truly educated man has a healthy and humble respect and reverence for Almighty God.

We are going to give much attention to this issue of fearing the Lord, because if our lives truly exhibit this quality the other nine points will inevitably fall into place.

Read the following verses with me and note what they say concerning revering the Lord.

1. Deuteronomy 10:12: “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

God does not really ask all that much of His children. He simply desires that we give Him the honor and reverence He is due. One sure sign that you have an appropriate fear of the Lord is a demonstration of walking in His ways. So, what are His ways? Jesus Christ exemplified a life worthy of the Father. He was humble, full of love, constantly serving others, a Seeker of justice and righteousness, and willing to do anything for the sake of the gospel. Does your life represent a striving for such characteristics? If not, perhaps you need to question whether or not you truly fear the Lord.

Think about this… Imagine how you would feel if you were given the opportunity to spend a day with the president of the United States. Or, if that does not strike a chord, imagine you could have lunch with your favorite professional athlete. How would you act in the presence of such greatness, such success, such power? Would you interact with that person just like you do with your best friend? Surely not, for this individual is different — he is famous!

How much greater and how much worthier of praise and admiration is our God than the mere human beings that He created! Should we not feel at least a small amount of anxiety upon entering His presence? Should we not make every possible effort to treat Him with the respect He deserves? God is not simply different, or just another famous name. He is THE Creator and Sustainer of this entire universe. He can wipe you and me off the face of this planet in a split second. Do you approach our Heavenly Father with this perspective? Or, does your relationship with Him simply involve what He can do for you? Until we fear God enough to approach Him with our knees bent and our faces to the ground, we cannot rightly expect Him to do anything to lift us up. Think about it this way; if you are not down, how can you ever be lifted up?

Notice these verses:

2. Psalm 25:12-14: “What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.”

Those who fear the Lord are considered worthy of partaking in the secrets of His kingdom. Thus, a truly educated man will realize that all the knowledge in the world is miniscule when compared to the amazing truths that only lie in God’s hands. Universities and libraries can only teach you so much. The most valuable knowledge can only be obtained from the all-knowing God of wisdom, and He is only willing to share such understanding with those who respect Him and approach His throne with reverence.

3. Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

While this world is full of entities which pose a threat to your physical existence, such as disease, accidents, criminals, etc., only one power can control the state of your much more significant spiritual existence. God has the authority to allow you into Heaven or send you to Hell. Should such power not be feared much more than cancer, car wrecks, and gangs? Our physical existence is but a breath, while our spiritual existence is eternal. Let us revere the One who ultimately controls both.

4. Hebrews 12:28-29: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”

Devastation is all around us. We see signs of a broken, chaotic world on the news and in our own neighborhoods on a daily basis. However, none of these forces pose even the tiniest threat to the Almighty God. He rules over a kingdom which cannot be shaken, and those who have placed their trust in His Son are automatically accepted as residents into this Kingdom. Thus, we are called to serve God with an attitude of great respect, for He is the only One who offers salvation from the despair that surrounds us.

God is a consuming fire. Ultimately He will consume all forces of evil and all those who have not given Him the reverence He deserves. On that day, will you be ushered into the unshakable kingdom, or will you be consumed by the long ignored and belittled fire? A truly educated man realizes his education is absolutely worthless if it is not accompanied by a healthy fear of the Lord. Please do not waste your time and money. If you pursue higher education accompany that with an even more diligent pursuit of the Lord.


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.