Acquiring A Teachable Heart
In this article, we will see what the Scriptures tell us about a Teachable Heart — what it is, and how to acquire it. We begin by looking at four possible conditions of the heart.
In the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8), Yahushua [Jesus] gives us a parable illustrating four different conditions of the heart. In this parable, we see that the Seed is cast into four kinds of ground. Yahushua then tells us that the Seed is the Word of Yahuweh [who is the person of Messiah], sown in the heart of man.
We then see that the four types of ground receiving the Seed are revealed only after a time of testing. This is when the condition of the heart is revealed.
The apostle Peter then affirms what we are told in this parable. Peter tells us (1Pet 1:23) that we are Born-Again by the incorruptible Seed of the Word of Yahuweh, which describes how Messiah is ‘birthed’ within the heart of man, just as a Seed springs up from the earth.
The Parable of the Sower is given as a warning to Believers, to show the dangers that can affect one’s spiritual growth, as well as one’s eventual fruitfulness. But the parable does something else — it reveals the four conditions of heart, and tells us how each is acquired!
As we look further at the parable, we notice that of four scenarios described in the parable, we see ‘fruit’ produced in only one scenario — where the seed is sown on ‘good ground.’ Remember, Messiah has already told us that the ‘ground’ in which the seed is sown, is the heart of man (Matt 13:19; Mark 4:15; Luke 8:12), and that the ‘good ground’ is a ‘good heart’ (Luke 8:15).
So we must ask the two questions: “What is a good heart — and how can we acquire a good heart?”
What is a Good Heart?
The answer to this first question can be more easily seen by looking at what Yahushua describes as a heart that is ‘not’ good, in contrast to a heart that is ‘good.’
First, the heart that is not good:
For this people’s heart is waxed gross [thick; callous—not sensitive to the Word], and their ears are dull of hearing [do not hearken — do not hear, and obey], and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand [consider, perceive, rightly understand] with their heart, and should be converted [turn in their actions], and I should heal them [the result of turning]. (Matthew 13:15)
Then the heart that is good:
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth [hearken, to hear and obey] the word, and understandeth it [the result of obedience]; which also beareth fruit [the result of understanding it], and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:23)
And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear [hearken, to hear and obey] the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit [the result of hearing, obeying, and receiving it], some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. (Mark 4:20)
But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [the result of keeping it]. (Luke 8:15)
So we see the results as follows:
The Heart that is Not Good
- is not sensitive to what the Word says;
- does not hearken to [hear and obey] the Word;
- does not consider, does not rightly perceive the Word;
- does not turn, to adjust their actions to conform to the Word.
The Heart that is Good
- hearkens to [hears and obeys] the Word, and understands it;
- hearkens to [hears and obeys] the Word, and receives it;
- having heard the Word, keeps it.
Now that we have seen what the Scripture has to say about a good heart, let us now look at what is required to acquire a good heart!
How Do We Acquire a Good Heart?
From the above results, we see that the good heart is one that hears the Word, considers the Word, rightly perceives the Word, and obeys the Word. The good heart understands the Word, receives the Word, and keeps the Word. These all describe the one who is teachable.
Above all, the teachable heart cries out to Yahuweh, asking Him for Yahuweh’s Truth, and His teaching. But there are further conditions for receiving His teaching. Notice the following passages:
Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou [art] the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:4)
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. (Psalms 86:11)
Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it [unto] the end. (Psalms 119:33)
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. (Psalms 119:66)
Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalms 143:10)
Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. (Proverbs 4:13)
Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. (Proverbs 19:20)
Notice carefully in the above passages, that the first step of those who would be taught, is to ‘cry out’ to Yahuweh, asking Him to “Teach Me!”
Notice also in the above passages, that the genuine teaching from Yahuweh is not merely some generic ‘teaching’ of a general nature, but is the teaching of Father’s ways, as revealed in Scripture.
Father’s ways are the ways of truth, and these ways are defined by His written commandments, statutes, and judgments [Father’s ‘house rules’ for His family] written in the Bible — the Scriptures.
The above passage (Psalms 143:10) then tells us, that it is by our obedience to ‘do’ His will [as revealed in Scripture] — that is, by our putting His ways, and His ‘house rules’ into action in our lives — that Father will lead us, by His Holy spirit, into the land of uprightness.
The Proverbs tell us that our wisdom, and even our life, depend on our receiving Yahuweh’s instruction.
Let us be cautioned, however, that Yahuweh will not teach someone who is unwilling to keep, to observe, to obey, and to walk in all the specific Bible truths that Yahuweh desires to teach! For example, if we are willing to hear and obey one particular truth, but refuse another, we may disqualify ourselves from receiving further teaching, until such time as we obey the previous words He has revealed to us.
The Importance of Teaching: The Preparation of the Bride
To see how our preparation is dependent upon our teaching, we will look at several Bible passages:
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Corinthians 6:17-18)
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)
In the above passages addressed to Born-Again Believers, we see two things.
First, we see the promises for those who learn to practice those things Yahuweh considers ‘holy’ [set-apart as special], and as ‘clean’ [not defiled]. Because these Believers have chosen to be separate, to learn and to walk in all that Yahuweh considers holy and clean, Messiah will receive them. He will be a Father to them, and they will be considered sons and daughters.
Second, we see the consequences of those Believers who do not learn nor practice all that is ‘holy’ and ‘clean.’ The consequences of Born-Again Believers who refuse to walk in set-apart-ness, choosing instead to practice uncleanness, is that Messiah will not receive them, nor will they have a reward of inheritance in Father’s kingdom!
Remember, the above passages are both addressed to Born-Again Believers!
The great importance of one’s teachableness can now be seen, when we consider that those among the Born-Again Believers who are unwilling to learn, and to practice, all that is ‘holy’ and ‘clean,’ is that they will not be adequately prepared as a Bride Candidate, when Messiah returns.
To further confirm how one’s ‘teachableness’ is related to one’s preparation as a Bride-Candidate, we will look at the prophet Ezekiel’s words about the future Sons of Zadok, on whom the apostle Paul based some of his teaching. In the following passage, the ‘Sons of Zadok’ speak prophetically of Yahuweh’s Holy Spirit-filled ministries today, who will teach Yahuweh’s Born-Again people:
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezekiel 44:23)
In the above passage, we see the prophetic ‘Sons of Zadok’ teaching Yahuweh’s people about the most important subject prior to Messiah’s return. Notice that they will teach Yahuweh’s people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean!
Now if Yahuweh’s people are not teachable, they will not learn the difference between what is holy [set-apart as special], and what is profane [‘common’ or every-day]. If they do not learn set-apart-ness, they will not know how to walk in it, to practice it, and they will not be prepared as a Bride.
Those who will be prepared as a Bride, however, are those who have good hearts, and who are teachable. These will be among the Bride-Company, for they have chosen to prepare themselves (Rev 19:7; Rev 21:2).
Now let us see how the heart becomes teachable.
How the Heart Becomes Teachable
The working of the Holy Spirit within us is like the growth of a seed. The Seed of Messiah-within-us is first cast into this vessel of earth at the New Birth. Yet the seed is not to remain a seed, but is to spring up, grow, and mature into a sturdy, strong, capable, fruitful tree, to bring forth fruit for the Master. In order to produce this fruit however, one must first have an attitude of teachableness — also called a teachable spirit, or teachable heart.
Let us see how we can acquire this teachable heart. We will begin with the first clue:
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15:8)
As trees planted by Yahuweh, as Born-Again Believers, we are called to bear fruit for the Master. Our great concern should be for this growth, as our goal is to glorify the Master, by bringing forth much fruit.
When we are growing, our growth as a ‘tree’ can be seen, as we grow more humble, more holy [set apart], and in choosing Father’s will, rather than our own will.
When we are growing, we see that we are becoming more obedient to the Scriptures.
When we are growing, we are no longer living by our own ways, but we are learning to live according to Father’s ways:
My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. (Proverbs 23:26)
In the above passage, Father tells us that if we have been Born-Again [‘My son’], He desires that we would give Him our heart, and would then begin to [observe, delight in, accomplish, and walk] His ways. To do this requires that we lay down our own ways, to separate ourselves to walk in His lifestyle of being holy [set-apart] in all our ways.
But if we are not separating ourselves, nor changing our lifestyle to one of set-apart-ness, nor learning to live according to Father’s ways — we are instead filled with ‘our own’ ways. In this event, Scripture tells us we are not growing, but backsliding:
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways… (Proverbs 14:14a)
Beloved, Scripture warns us, so that we may avoid the sorrowful consequences, and prepare ourselves for the good!
And so we see from Scripture, exactly how Yahuweh intends to grow us up and change each one of us, to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29-30).
Let us now look further at how we can acquire this teachable heart, as we become conformed to the image of Messiah, by growing in our obedience to the Scriptures.
Growing in Obedience
In order to understand how we are to become obedient to Father’s will, we will look at Yahushua, as our example. Let us look at what Yahushua did, as he matured:
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered…” (Hebrews 5:8)
Imagine that! Yahushua — the Son of Yahuweh — was indeed a most beloved Son, and He was of an obedient heart, for He came to do His Father’s will (John 5:30). Yet He had to learn obedience!
And He learned obedience by the things which He suffered! That is, He learned obedience to the point that His own suffering must occur, in order to carry out His full obedience to His Father’s will, as written in Scripture.
Yahushua voluntarily chose to learn obedience unto death. He learned that obedience is more important than the suffering we must endure, when we obey His Words in the Scriptures. This is the highest example of a teachable heart — of learning obedience by the things we suffer.
Yahushua, as our example, was tried, tested, and tempted in all respects just as we are, and yet He was without sin — without transgressing the Law (1John 3:4). The suffering He experienced was in the area of His will. Even while being tried, tested, and tempted, Yahushua maintained His submission to the Father’s will, by repeatedly denying His own will.
Yahushua stripped Himself of self-will, and chose to submit to His Father’s will. Yahushua suffered the agony of self-denial in order to learn obedience. He suffered the humility of appearing to be guilty, when charged by the religious and civil authorities, by not explaining His case, and suffered the agony of rejection by the religious authorities. He did all this in order to learn obedience. Anyone who has ever experienced the struggle of denying self-will knows well that it can be a struggle filled with agony and suffering.
Learning obedience by the things we suffer is gained through humility, honesty, and a willingness to be submissive to the Father and His Word. These are essential qualities of a teachable heart.
Yahushua is our example. And because Yahushua had to learn obedience by the things which He suffered, we can be assured that we must learn obedience in the same way!
And so it is, that Yahushua’s example of learning obedience by suffering is vital for us. His example of obedience reveals the essence of a teachable heart — a heart that learns obedience by enduring sufferings.
Death Brings Resurrection
Yahuwah desires that we grow and mature. There is, however, only one way for Yahuweh to ‘grow us up’ and to change us:
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Corinthians 3:18)
“…that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die…” (1Corinthians 15:36)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42)
“I beseech you therefore, brethren… that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
As the above verses teach us, in order for us to mature and be changed into the same image as the glory of Yahushua, a death is required – a death to self, and a death to ‘our own’ understanding. It is only as we lay down our self-will, and offer our own will as a living sacrifice, that Father can begin to transform us, by His Spirit.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is not a physical death, but is a daily living for Him, in which we put to death the demands of self. What ‘I’ think, what ‘I’ want, what ‘I’ understand — all of these I’s must die. Only then can we come to a place where we can say, “not MY will, but YOUR will be done.”
The heart of the matter is that our own understanding must humbly bow to Father’s Words, and to His Ways. If we desire to cooperate with Father, and allow Him to do His conforming work in us, we must maintain a softness of heart, which is a teachableness — a willingness to hear, to listen, and to make changes in our lifestyle, in obedience to His Words in Scripture.
The results will be seen immediately: His Resurrection Life, and greater understanding of His Word, both increase in us, and begin to come forth. Just as Yahushua promised (John 14:21), He manifests [makes evident] Himself, to all who choose to obey His Word!
But it is here — when we begin to change our lifestyle, to walk in Father’s ways — that we begin to suffer. We must be ready and willing to be rejected by religious authorities, and by close friends, and even family members. It is here, that we learn to place Father’s will above our own will. It is here, that we learn obedience!
This is the transformation that Yahuweh works into all His teachable children — growing us up into the stature and fullness of Messiah. Currently we are all far, far below the level of understanding that Yahuweh is calling us to have. Our own ‘way of thinking’ has very much to Un-learn, and then much to Re-learn, according to Scripture.
Father’s purpose for His children is that we would un-learn what we now understand, and re-learn what the Scriptures actually say, so that we would become ‘doers’ of the Scriptures, and not just hearers. It is this process that renews our minds, and actually renews our ‘way of thinking.’ This is the mystery of transformation — literally a transfiguration as the Greek word means — and describes the process of how Father conforms us to His image.
Let us now look at some of the characteristics of a teachable heart.
Characteristics of a Teachable Heart
From the above Scripture passages, we can summarize the characteristics of a teachable heart:
The Teachable Heart
- A teachable heart is open to learning Father’s Words, even if they are different from what religious authorities have taught.
- A teachable heart is willing to conform his actions and lifestyle to Yahuweh’s Words, and to Yahuweh’s heart’s desire, as revealed in the Scriptures — even in the face of suffering rejection from religious authorities, family, and friends.
- A teachable heart will be on guard against any hardness of heart, which Scripture describes as an unwillingness to hear and obey the Word of God.
- A teachable heart is one that is quick to hear and obey what the Scriptures actually say, and slow to speak one’s own opinion.
Those with a teachable heart are learning to ‘lean not unto their own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5). When difficulties or disagreements arise, a teachable heart will not hold tightly to one’s ‘own understanding’ of a matter; but will instead, do as the Bereans did, searching the Scriptures, committing all to prayer.
The teachable heart will learn to obey what the Holy Spirit reveals in the Scriptures, even to the point of suffering that occurs, from being obedient!
Most often, the suffering involves a denial of our self-will, when we choose to do what Father has said in the Scriptures, instead of what ‘we’ would like to do. When we yield to Yahuweh’s Word, and we purpose in our heart to be obedient to Him, it is then that the Holy Spirit can begin to bring us greater insight, and greater understanding of Father’s will. This is the way of a teachable heart.
If we hope to glorify our Heavenly Father, we must be serious about our spiritual growth, and about our producing of fruit. If we ever hope to grow, to learn, and to change, then we must have a soft, teachable heart at all times. We must lay down that demanding spirit within each one of us, that seeks to defend ‘our own’ position, and to hold on to ‘our own’ understanding.
The teachable heart will seek to cultivate teachableness, seen in our willingness to follow Yahushua’s leading, even into unfamiliar paths, into ‘unfamiliar’ [but Scriptural] doctrinal territory. On many occasions, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to things in the Scriptures that Father would have us to walk in, but which may go against what we have been taught to be the right direction.
But we must remember, Yahuweh loves His children, and will not lead us astray; He simply intends to remove our current understanding, so that He may replace it with ‘His’ understanding, which is always according to the Scriptures.
Yahushua has told us that those who would enter His Kingdom must become as ‘little children.’ Just as a little child is soft, tender-hearted, and ready to obey, so too must we maintain a softness towards our Heavenly Father, and a quickness to obey Him. A little child, perhaps only a toddler, is a good example of one who has a humble, teachable heart.
Little children have a strong desire to obey, and to please their parents. Our hearts are to become transformed, and we are to become teachable as little children. We should endeavour to maintain our ‘first love’ — that precious desire to please our Heavenly Father.
Let us now look at one final aspect of acquiring a teachable heart — one that will allow us to ‘grow up’ into Him in all things.
The Way UP is Down
Growing UP is hard. At times it can be very humiliating and very difficult. Ask any mountain climber if the way UP is difficult. The answer is, “Yes!” Nevertheless, Father is calling each one of us to grow UP into Him in all things, regardless of the difficulties! (Eph 4:15). He intends for each of us to grow up to ‘the Rock that is higher than I’ — to grow up to His ways and thoughts, that are higher than our ways and thoughts.
In order for us to grow up, however, there is one requirement: we must lay down our attachment to worldly wisdom. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” Worldly wisdom is nothing at all compared to Yahuweh’s wisdom! In order to receive wisdom from Father, we must lay down, must let go, must release all that we have in the way of our ‘own understanding,’ and seek for understanding according to the Word of Yahuweh.
The same is true for anything we would receive from Father. To receive from Father, we must first lay down and let go of what we already have.
This principle appears to be a paradox. As Derek Prince would say, “The way UP is down.” That is a Scriptural principle. It tells us that as we humble ourselves and lay down our own understanding, then Yahuweh will exalt us, and lift us up unto His understanding, enabling us to receive His truth — which is according to His Word (1Peter 5:6)!
To see the great importance of this principle of ‘laying down’ in order to receive further teaching, notice the following passage:
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. (Psalms 25:9)
In the above passage, we are told that Father will teach His Way to the meek — to those who are humble, who choose to take the more ‘lowly’ position, as a student before his teacher! And so until we are willing to lay down what we think we know, we will receive no further teaching in The WAY — for this teaching is reserved only for the meek!
And so we see in the matter of knowledge and understanding, the way UP is down! This is the pathway of a humble and soft heart! A humble heart is one that is teachable. A humble heart is an approachable heart. A humble heart is a yielded heart. A humble heart is willing to hear, repent, and obey. A humble heart maintains a readiness for learning and for changing its ways, according to Scripture.
A humble heart nurtures the willing heart within, for growing in the Ways of Yahuweh. A humble heart will let nothing invade the sweet tenderness that is so necessary for obeying the Father.
Yahuweh’s wisdom is so much better and higher than ours! If we are truly seeking to be conformed into His image, then we will be changing our own ways, often. We will be repenting of our own understanding, often. We will be choosing humility — often! And we will rely on Father to work in us a willingness to endure suffering, so that we may learn obedience, and may acquire a teachable heart.
Let us cry out to Father — and ask Him to give us a Teachable Heart!
and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Rev 3:3)