I heard an amusing piece on ABC radio recently about some research. It reported that ignorance breeds over-confidence and much talk. Not really rocket science. Who would have guessed?
Humility is the beginning of the knowledge of God and an understanding of one’s self. It affords an attitude of reflection, of self-examination and the assessment of one’s views. It undermines personal obstinacy and stifles the habit of talking because one can. Humility makes us a listener. Humility enables us to be open minded and a continual leaner - rather than a person forced to change their mind when the quality of our ideas have sapped us of spiritual vitality or led to our near obliteration as a person.
To seek Jesus Christ unconditionally and without limit opens us to revelation and truth in all spheres of life. Adultery in God’s terms is having divided loyalty, of having a private god as well as our Big God. This can be anything from materialism to having a denominational identity as an idol. Adultery and idolatry go together. Idols and other husbands are things we attempt to gain life from rather than union with God in Jesus. Such impurity of heart dulls, discernment, perpetuates false views of God and accommodates us to false doctrine. An unconditional intention to follow Jesus wherever He leads enables us to know God as He is.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ Matt 5.8. This kind
We can enjoy the company of the humble. It facilitates the examination of possibilities.
My father and mother modelled humility. They were hard working, humble and could change their ideas when it was seen that their old ones were inadequate. My mother in particular was always learning, even in to her old age. If the ability to concentrate is a sign of intelligence, so it a willingness to examine new ideas and abandon old ones. Bigots are handicapped because they understand neither the love of God or themselves.
‘A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool’ Prov 17.10 NIV.
There are people who choose death rather than life. Of course it is not obvious to them what they are doing. The issues do not rise up before them like some stark advertisement. Having gone for talk rather than discernment they are not usually capable of perceiving the difference between death and life. They are entirely unacquainted with the truth of losing yourself to find yourself and their life is substantially made up of hanging on to what is theirs. Some never grow out of their mothers ideas or the inadequate ideas of their family. They simply hoard the ideas that came easy to them, that they have absorbed by osmosis and make a life based on their ignorance. Pride and ignorance go together. Ignorance is about ignoring freedom and truth and preferring darkness to light.
‘The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day’ Prov 4.18 NIV.
We can make a life by learning the economic/political system and knowing its ways. Living within this system, we become system people and quiet supporters of the status quo. Despite our best selves we become an image to the beast.
Not a few make the status quo their quasi god. It’s what they put their faith in and from where they get their security. ‘God helps those who helps themselves’ is their motto. But thy know not the God who is I AM or His Son Jesus Christ and are immune to His intimacy. They have seldom benefited from His largesse and favour. They are too busy earning merit themselves. As a result, their real life ebbs away even as they make a life for themselves. They can be physically well-off but spiritually alone and barren. Barren because much of their life is lived in religion rather than in relationship with the God who is real. This is why Jesus said it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to see the Kingdom of God. “Rich” here refers not only to money. Here ‘rich’ covers our sense of self, pride, reverence for our own ideas and faith in our intellectual ability that exceeds our trust in God.
‘God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth’ Matt 5.5 NIV.
Nevertheless there are wealthy folks who are sons and daughters of God. Our ability to grow in spirit and in truth as sons of God comes from Christ our life. Not from our possessions or status in the community.
‘ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ Matt 5.3 NIV.
Unless we have the outlook of a little child we cannot see the Kingdom of God. This not only relates to spirituality and the nexus between God and man. It means that the openness and teachability of a little child enables us to see, discern and understand about life. It means we are open to receiving life to the full and positioning ourselves to receive the spirit and life that is ours - instead of persisting as cripples with decrepit ideas.
Yet people receive false comfort and false life from poor ideas. There are folks who like to define themselves as poor when they are in fact middle class and reasonably well off. They live from scarcity although surrounded by abundance and find security in classifying themselves as poor. They live from a poverty mindset in order to allay their horror of financial calamity.
Confining themselves in a peasant (survival) identity justifies their poverty outlook - an attitude that results from their dread of economic annihilation. Their fear becomes systematized as an outlook and a way of life. This is the narrative or story that they feel compelled to rely on. But it is a lie. It’s like living as a sinner when your are actually a son of God.
Their persistence in a life of thinly disguised fear and dread helps retain their sense of control. This is a sense of control that if relinquished for trust in a real God He would heal their wounded soul, heal their crippled spirit and provide for their physical and social needs.
In Jesus you need not live by the rules of the survival of the fittest or in the semi-atheistic mode of ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Neither need you live as a victim or a mendicant. When we live in the reality rather than in the shadows of religion, we receive not just salvation or pie in the sky by and by. We begin to participate in the Kingdom of God in the present. We become who we really are and enter a realm where this always more than enough.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’ Matt 11.28-30 NIV.