“It is generally unwise to assume the best of yourself, both your motives and your actions.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 10, 2022
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets. Matthew 23:29-30, ESV
It is remarkably tempting to have an overly kind and generous assumption of what we would or wouldn’t do in times of great trial or challenge, especially when looking back at the events of human history. We tell ourselves that it would simply have been impossible for us to stay silent during the Atlantic slave trade, the Holocaust, or the Civil Rights Movement, to name but a few of the countless injustices that have plagued our world. In many ways, our hearts resonate deeply with the words of the scribes and Pharisees, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part…”
As a rule of spiritual practice, it is generally unwise to assume the best of yourself, both your motives and your actions. In truth, the heart is filled with countless desires, temptations, and fears, intermingled and interwoven with longings for that which is good, beautiful, and true. We may hope that when presented with an opportunity to choose virtue over vice we would make the right choice, yet it is naïve to give ourselves such high levels of credit.
The longing for power, security, wealth, and respect runs through every human heart, in every time and place, including mine and yours in this very moment. Wisdom invites us to tell the truth about ourselves and to refuse to create categories that exempt us from the rest of the human race. It is simply impossible to know how any of us would have responded in past moments of trial, but present behavior alone should give me pause in my confidence that I would never be numbered amongst the ranks of the guilty.
I don’t have to look back to previous generations to imagine how I might respond to evil and injustice. In this present moment, there are countless ways in which I turn a blind eye to the pain of my neighbor, fail to speak out for the voiceless, and simply can’t be bothered to slow down and listen to the cries of the needy. If we are honest, this is true of each of us, and no one is exempt from this reality.
And so, resist at every turn the temptation to elevate yourself over and against others, and never place yourself beyond the ability to be tempted and participate in the brokenness of this world. Instead, look afresh to the Lord and cry out, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”
Father, help me to live in the light of your kingdom, and to be numbered in my own day with the saints who dwell in the light of your life, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
What injustices, great and small, are you guilty of participating in, and how can you strive today to live a holy and righteous life, even if it comes at great personal cost?
Matt Papa & Matt Boswell: His Mercy Is More
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