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Never too old to learn

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In many areas students will soon be returning to school classrooms to further their education and training.

In the public schools, where attendance is not optional, many students enjoy learning, while others tolerate it and some few struggle or even hate the educational process.

Those in higher education, while not compelled to attend, often have similar feelings, but usually are motivated to pursue the training that will assure them an adequate position in their future employment.

Classroom learning in a school setting is an important part of our early lives. But the learning process involves much more than sitting in a classroom or studying from a textbook. Education is a life-long process and it involves every aspect of our lives.

Even those who graduate from colleges or universities are the first to admit that in today's fast-paced world their education may be good for only a few years and then they have to refresh their knowledge or re-train themselves in new ways.

Obviously if we are not continually learning then we are missing out on one of the purposes of life. The Prophet Joseph Smith made this abundantly clear when he said:

"Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

"And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come." (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19.)

What better motivation to learn could there be than this promise of eternal advantage.

A prime object of our learning should be the gaining of wisdom.

Wisdom, according to the dictionary, is accumulated learning (knowledge); the ability to discern (insight); and good sense (judgment). This composite result of knowledge, insight and good judgment suggests a wise course of acquisition for all.

Solomon, one of the wise men of the ages, said of wisdom:

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7.)

The Prophet Joseph added a needed spiritual element to the gaining of wisdom when he said:

"A man of God should be endowed with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in order to teach and lead the people of God." (History of the Church 5:426.)

And he said further:

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after the doctrines of Christ. . . . truth is might and must prevail, and . . . one man empowered from Jehovah has more influence with the children of the kingdom than eight hundred millions led by the precepts of men." (History of the Church 6:73-74.)

From the earliest days of the Church the Lord has admonished His people to study and learn.

"And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith." (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118.)

In a commencement address given at Brigham Young University on April 27, 1995, President Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of wisdom, both secular and spiritual when he said:

"As you move forward with your lives, I challenge you never to forget that the schooling of the Spirit is as important, if not more so, than the schooling of the mind. . . .

"There is a tendency on the part of some graduates to say, 'Now all of that is behind me.' No, there is so much more ahead than there is behind. We live in a world where knowledge is developing at an ever-increasing rate. Drink deeply from this ever-springing well of wisdom and human experience. If you should stop now, you will only stunt your intellectual and spiritual growth. Keep everlastingly at it. Read. Read. Read. Read the word of God in sacred books of scripture. Read from the great literature of the ages. Read what is being said in our day and time and what will be said in the future."

We are never too old to learn and, it is hoped, our accumulated wisdom will empower us with knowledge, insight and good judgment now, tomorrow and forever.