#GrowWise. The Eight Most Important Words of Instruction Ever

January 23, 2015

daily text logo

Proverbs 23:12  (read the whole chapter)

Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.



Several years back I watched a television documentary on the life of the late French philosopher, Jacques Derrida. Derrida is famous for his postmodern philosophical approach known as deconstructionism. I have attempted to read one of his books and after forty five minutes of being on the same page I decided to throw in the towel. Derrida is to my academic skill as LeBron is to my basketball prowess. ;0)

At one point in the documentary, Derrida led the interviewer through a tour of his library. About the size of a gymnasium, the room rose up on all sides, covered in books, toward a cavernous ceiling. Awed at the sheer magnitude of the size of the collection, the interviewer asked the obligatory question at such a moment, “So, have you read all these books.” Derrida wryly replied, “No, but I have read two of them really, really well.”

After all, a philosopher is simply one who “philo” LOVES “sophia” WISDOM.

We live in an age where mastery of informational knowledge is prized over all. More is better. Faster is smarter. Information is power. Who knows the most is the smartest.

Today’s text read through the lens of today’s information ethic will yield a completely different meaning than the wisdom writer intends.

Apply your heart to instruction
    and your ears to words of knowledge.

We are almost done with January and I’ve already seen a number of friends and colleagues reporting out metrics on their New Year’s resolutions to read thus and so many books a month. I’ve engaged in that “my pile is bigger than your pile,” approach to reading before, and it can feel pretty satisfying. There’s something seductive about people referring to you as being a “well-read” person.

I think I like Derrida’s approach better. “So have you read all these books?” “No, but I have read two of them really, really well.”

That’s how I want to be with Scripture. Reading the Bible in 90 days or twenty minutes or one year. . . . it’s fine. I’m just not  sure that’s the best way to “apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.”

To do this implies a kind of slowly paced abiding with the text, a long  and lingering relationship with the words, a growing relationship with the author, and a revisiting it day after day after day for long seasons at a time.

As an example, Jesus said, “My command is this. Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

What might it be worth to apply my heart comprehensively to this tiny bit of instruction; to open my ears fully to this word of knowledge? What if I decided I would give myself until next year to read the Gospel of John. . . . really, really well? And what if I started by writing these eight words at the top of every page of the book, “Love each other as I have loved you.”

The entire scope and summation of the meaning of life can be brought down even further to five of these eight words of Jesus’ singular command, “As I have loved you.”

Our chief calling and highest ambition is to apply ourselves to understanding and appropriating and creatively enacting the meaning of these five words, “As I have loved you.”

Imagine one day Jesus asking you this question, “So my friend, have you read every word of the entire book of the Bible?” And, what if you replied, “No, but I have read one verse really, really well.” ;0)

I’ll see you tomorrow in Proverbs 24.

P.S. Sometimes I overstate my case to make a point. You know that by now. I highly prize reading the whole of Scripture. In fact, I don’t think we can begin to fathom what “as I have loved you,” means apart from the whole of Scripture. I think you see my point– the goal isn’t to read more and faster and better. Completion isn’t the goal. The goal? It’s applying our heart to instruction and our ears to words of knowledge to the end of grasping “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and knowing this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18).


J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.

Share today's Wake-Up Call!


WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

10 Responses

  1. Excellent commentary, JD. Too many think too much about reading the “whole” Bible; and those who claim to have done so seem lacking in the wisdom imparted. Like the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and what happens to us when we become too “puffed up” by how much we know or how much we’ve done.

    Thank you for your faithfulness and insight.

  2. In the early 17th century, Phu Quoc was a desolate area where Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants earned their
    living from the highly coveted sea cucumbers. Leave
    them out for longer periods of time until the night-time temperatures
    are above 50 degrees. A grow closet, which is also referred to
    as a grow tent, is essentially a box made of material, which can be zippered shut.

  3. Peole of different countries celebrate their happy occasions by serving wine to their guests.
    One thing that might act as a form of inspiration for youu to push forward with your mission of winning your ex-boyfriend
    back is becoming cognizant of the fact that lots of lovers reunite daily
    notwjthstanding having experienced horrible breakups.
    Following a separation there is the chance of fixing the relationship, nevertheless it has too be meticulously handled
    if you want to successfully win him or her back again.

  4. Just wish to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your
    submit is just nice and that i could think you are a professional in this subject.
    Fine with your permission allow me to seize your RSS feed to keep up to date with impending post.
    Thank you one million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  5. hi!,I love your writing so much! share we keep
    up a correspondence extra about your article on AOL?
    I require a specialist on this area to resolve my problem.
    May be that is you! Having a look forward to peer you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *