Sunday, April 23, 2017

Out to look right, or to do right?

A few years ago, I posted a "proverb" of mine:

The wise man wants to act righteously, and and welcomes correction as an aid to doing it. He will defend his reputation against unfair attacks, but only after examining the criticism to see if there is anything to learn from it. For him, doing right trumps looking right.

The fool wants to look righteous and regards correction as an obstacle to that goal. Defending his reputation is the first priority, and only after he once again feels his reputation is secure will he, possibly, examine the criticism for validity. For him, looking right trumps doing right.
It's derived from Ps 15:4c, Pr 12:1,15, and 2 Cor 13:7, with a generous dose of C. S. Lewis's principle of First and Second Things..  As usual with my  insights, it's pointing to some aspect of humility.  But when reading through Matthew recently, I realized that it could also be derived from Mat 6:1-18. Jesus warns against practicing your righteousness in front of people, in order to be seen, and gives 3 examples.  He even says "be careful not to"(HCSB, CSB, NET, NIV) or "Beware of "(NASB, ESV), doing this, which implies that it's something easy to slip into if you're not careful.  If you're only focused on "doing good", it's going to be easy to slip into doing it for the wrong reasons - for building up your own reputation, for making yourself look good to other people.  You have to be wary of, to be careful of, slipping into this.

Rather than doing your deeds before people, Jesus advocates just the opposite: do  your giving anonymously, pray in private rather than making a spectacle of public prayer, when fasting, do your ordinary grooming so people can't see you're fasting.

Does this mean  everything has to be done anonymously?  I don't think so;  Jesus also says in Mat 5:16: "let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven"".  People will see your good works, but your light should shine in such a way that they glorify your heavenly Father, not glorify you.

Attitude makes the difference.  Are you out to advertise yourself, or are you out to do what Father wants, regardless of how you look?  Are you the wise man, wanting to  do what 's right, even if you end up looking wrong, or are you the fool for whom looks and perception are everything?

Friday, January 06, 2017

A note on I Cor 8:1

Recently, I went over the notes I've made on the Olive Tree software I use to read the Bible, and ran across this note I made on I Cor 8:1, which seems share-worthy:

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up".  Knowledge tends to point to itself and gets all wrapped up in the fact that it knows what it knows. This is very head-puffing.  Love takes that same knowledge, and constructs.  Note that 'edify', though very much a "religious" word, tends to because of that become vague almost to the point of uselessness.  'Build up' is heading the same way.  To get the idea across in our culture, I'd use the term "construct", or maybe just "build" by itself.  Knowledge on its own inflates the head of its owner to the point where it is empty and flimsy.  Love takes that same knowledge, and builds something solid in the lives of others, whether or not the others realize that that person knows what he does.  Love isn't interested in showing off its knowledge.  Love is interested in making that knowledge productive in other's lives.