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Learning vs. Doing

I read about a man in New York City who died at the age of 63 without ever having had a job. He spent his entire adult life in college. He had acquired so many academic degrees that they looked like the alphabet behind his name.

Why did this man spend his entire life in college? When he was a child, a wealthy relative died who had named him as a beneficiary in his will. It stated that he was to be given enough money to support him every year as long as he stayed in school. And it was to be discontinued when he had completed his education.

The man met the terms of the will, but by staying in school indefinitely he turned a technicality into a steady income for life—something his benefactor never intended. Unfortunately, he spent thousands of hours listening to professors and reading books but never “doing.” He acquired more and more knowledge but didn’t put it into practice.

This reminds me of what James said: “Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only” (1:22). If we read the Bible or listen as it is taught but fail to put to work what we have learned, we are as bad as that man with his string of degrees. His education was of no practical benefit to anyone.

—Richard De Haan, Our Daily Bread