COLUMNS

When to Stop Studying

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails. The sayings are given by one Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. – Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 HCSB

In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails. The sayings are given by one Shepherd. But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. – Ecclesiastes 12:9-12 HCSB

There once was an intelligent, gifted young man who went to college. He studied hard – harder than anyone else. He didn’t party; didn’t date; in fact, he rarely appeared out of his room except when attending class or going to work. Even his job was at a library!

Naturally, he got good grades and graduated early with honors. But he didn’t go anywhere. He simply signed up for another course of study. Having already done all his basic classes, within two years he finished that too. Yet still he went nowhere – did nothing.

That young man became a middle aged man and continued studying. He piled degree upon degree, academic honor upon academic honor, but he never really produced anything. He never interacted with people. He never married. He never had kids.

Finally, he died in his room – at his desk. His funeral was short and poorly attended. The longest part of the service was when the minister read off his degrees.

There are two Hebrew words for study: “lahag” and “midrash”. The tzaddikim are to be renowned for their study habits. After all, our Master IS called the Word and our walk is disciplined according to a Book.

The Teacher taught people, studied hard and sought to find truth so this passage is not encouraging us to have poor study habits. It is trying to warn us of the dangers of “lahag” which is obsessive study motivated by greed or narcissism.

People study for all kinds of bad reasons. Some study so that others will look up to and follow them. They are practicing “lahag” out of narcissism. Some study so that they can get the knowledge they need to make piles of money. They are driven by greed. Others use study as a way to escape life or to avoid action. As long as they can keep studying the matter, they can make themselves believe that it’s not yet time to obey.

Midrash, however, is completely different. It is motivated by humility and love. The good student recognizes his weakness and longs to be better than he is in order to please his Master and better serve others because he loves them.

So as soon as you are no longer driven to study by love or the humble realization that you need to improve or change yourself – stop. You are in danger of lahag. Stop studying and start doing.

For a fully referenced and hyperlinked version of this article search the archives at http://pastorpauley.blogspot.com/