It’s a beautiful thing to be able to learn. The heart that desires to learn is a beautiful heart. It is said that the word ‘beauty’ is originally derived from the word, ‘know’. Professor Yoo Young-Man, a knowledge ecologist, says that the Korean letter ‘Um’ is attached to the Korean word, ‘Al-Da’ (meaning ‘know’) to become ‘Al-Um,’ and ‘Al-Um’ has again changed to ‘A-Reum.’ (meaning, ‘beauty’). A beautiful person is someone who is able to know something correctly. They are able to know deeply. The depth of beauty comes from the depth of understanding. The depth of understanding is achieved through lifelong learning. In that sense, this kind of beauty depends on continuous learning. Professor Yu says that the Chinese character, ‘美’ (meaning, ‘beauty’) is derived from the delightful heart of the shepherd as the sheep(羊) grows bigger (大). God is our shepherd, and we are His sheep. God, the Good Shepherd, is delighted when we, the sheep, continue to grow steadily. In order for us to grow steadily, we must cultivate our hearts that desire to learn.
A heart that desires to learn is a humble one. The humble heart is the one that readily acknowledges that there are still many things that it does not know. The proud person does not learn. They live deluding themselves into thinking that they know everything. For this reason, the proud do not grow. In contrast, the humble one thinks that they do not know much by themselves. That’s why they want to learn from others. They listen to everyone they meet. When reading a book, they read it in a humble posture for the purpose of learning. They continually grow because they are always learning.
The heart that desires to learn is an open heart. When you open your heart to learn, learning begins. Humbly open your heart, and when you step into the path of learning, learning will begin. How do we start then? We just start. Once you start, another path of learning opens. If you want to learn through the Bible, read the Bible. If you want to learn through books, please read books. If you want to write, start writing. If you want to write poetry, write poetry. Please make good use of the various learning opportunities offered by the church.
The heart that desires to learn is a heart that loves. Love is found in interests. When you are interested in someone or interested in a topic, love begins there. Your learning becomes deepened when you are interested in a certain topic and deeper learning occurs. We begin to enjoy the things that we love. We also begin to resemble the things we love. And largely, love is sharing. We learn so that we can share. We learn so that we can serve better. My motivation for learning is to love. I love learning to learn the best so that I can share it with you. In order to share something, you must first possess it. To share knowledge, you must first acquire the knowledge. To share wisdom, you must first acquire the wisdom. We are nurtured by learning from someone. After that, we nurture others to share what we have learned. Through this process, we will reach a deeper learning.
A heart that learns is a heart that understands. God helps us understand when we learn. To understand is to be open. As we understand, we come to know the things that we did not know, and we better understand what we do know. When we come to understand, we come to a wonderful experience. In understanding, we experience the joy of learning. At that moment, psychologists say that the hormone called ‘Didorphine’ is released. It is said that the hormone is thousands of times stronger than “endorphines,” which heals us. It can heal our inner wounds and heal our lives. When you come to understand, you will bear abundant fruits. The road to understanding is found in learning.
A heart that desires to learn is a heart for transformation and maturity. To truly learn is to become a better person. You become a person who God is pleased with. True learning forms beautiful character. True learning bears the fruits of holy character. The one who serves others without discrimination is beautiful. The one who respects others without discrimination is fragrant. In order to make a new transformation, we must be able to throw away our wrong doings in the past. When the river throws itself out, it meets the sea. Trees also throw away leaves to endure the winter. And in doing so, it grows new sprouts. We must take off our old self in order to meet the new self. Only when we empty ourselves can we be filled. We grow by constantly emptying ourselves and being filled.
Please cherish the small lesson and the small enlightenment. Small learning leads to a little bit of a bigger learning. Small enlightenment leads to a deeper enlightenment. Today’s learning leads to tomorrow’s learning. We prepare for a brighter future through today’s learning. The moment we get too comfortable, we age. But everyone who continues to learn will live with an everlasting youth. May you be a saint that grows beautifully through learning.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.