It’s that time of year again—the new clothes are bought, the backpacks are stocked, and children and young adults are headed back to school. Whether you’re one of those students or finished with your formal schooling, the scriptures are full of stories about gaining knowledge. Here are five lessons that heroes from the scriptures can teach us!
- Daniel: Learn in Every Situation
Daniel and several of his Jewish friends were taken from their homes to the court of Nebuchadnezzar to be taught “the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 1:4). These young men were captives thrust into a new culture against their wills, but they made the best of the situation. They held fast to God’s commandments—even spreading their dietary habits to others—but still learned everything their Chaldean teachers taught them. The boys’ hard work paid off, and the king found them to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in his realm” in “all matters of wisdom and understanding” (Daniel 1:20). Remember that you can find ways to learn no matter where you are!
- Nephi: Knowledge is Worth a Few Failures
Remember how many attempts it took Nephi and his brothers to finally get the plates of brass? Yup—three. The boys came disturbingly close to death and had their mother worried sick. But Nephi knew that God had asked them to get the plates for good reasons. God knew that they would need the direction and contained in the prophet’s words and treasure their family’s genealogy. And as it turned out, the boys’ so-called “failures” were the reason Zoram ended up joining the Lehite group. So the next time you bomb a test or make a choice that makes you feel pretty stupid, don’t give up! That failure may just be leading you to your next important lesson.
- Paul: Use Your Knowledge in God’s Kingdom
After his conversion to the Gospel, Paul became one of the best teachers of the early Christian church. He spent years of his life traveling between cities, and he had a lot to offer. For one thing, he had been a Pharisee and a student of a Jewish doctor of the law named Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). In addition, he was a Roman citizen and therefore understood the Roman law and culture. Paul used all of his knowledge to his advantage and was able to preach in ways and places that no one else could. You, too, are unique in your talents and the lessons you’ve learned in your life. God wants and needs you to use your learning to bless others and to strengthen the Church, so always be looking for ways to do just that!
- Joseph Smith: Ponder Over a Period of Time
Young Joseph Smith had been searching for the truth for some time before he came across James 1:5 in his Bible study. The verse hit him hard. But if he had left his experience at that, things may have turned out very differently for him and millions of others. Joseph didn’t just brush off this lesson—he “reflected upon it again and again” and decided only “at length” to take his question to God (Joseph Smith History 1:12-13). Cramming for tests—either in school or in spiritual matters—doesn’t generally work well, especially for the long term. It’s generally much better to spend a long time thinking about and working on concepts or questions and to act based on those lessons.
- Jesus Christ: Keep Good Records
When Jesus visited the Nephites, one thing He did was ask to see the record that had been kept by the prophets and others. He pointed out that certain prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite had not been recorded and commanded that they be written down (3 Nephi 9-13). We, too, are responsible to take care of the lessons we learn, whether that be by taking notes in class, writing down lessons we learn in our scripture studies, or journaling. We don’t know whether Jesus will ask us someday to see the records we’ve kept, but God is more likely to bless us with a better memory and more lessons in the future if we take good care of the knowledge we have now.
So are you ready for a new year of learning? What other lessons can our heroes from the scriptures teach us about gaining and keeping knowledge? Share your favorites in the comments!