Thursday, December 6, 2018

The silence of the humble

The older I get, the more of life I witness, the more experience I gather, one common theme seems to repeat over and over:

I am not good.

I've had many conversations with others about 'big picture' or 'deep' subjects. I've read many books on these subjects. I've watched many YouTube videos made by various people with various positions on these subjects.

What does that say about me? If it were mere curiosity, it would manifest itself in personal wisdom that I may or may not share with others. But instead, too many times I have found myself in a spirit of contention based on what I felt was my correct perception about what God wants or God approves of, etc.

Even in concerted attempts to exercise humility, I have found myself making personal judgments and interpretations regarding the mysteries of God. A pastor I listened to recently reminded me of one of my favorite passages, in a way that hit home:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."--Isaiah 55:8-9

Even the most sincere attempts to understand the mind of God are not going to be reliable. God is at a level of understanding that, despite how bruising it is to the human ego, is so far beyond us that when we make assumptions about what true justice is, or fairness, or some such concept, we're like toddlers dealing with calculus.

This isn't to say that we can't understand the basic principles. That's likely the purpose of the Ten Commandments. A short, direct list from God that gives us what we need to know in order to live in a way that pleases our Creator.

I can think of no one, including Richard Dawkins et al, who can honestly claim that any of the Ten Commandments could result in anything negative for humanity. They may disagree with the concept for multiple reasons, but the actual commandments themselves would produce nothing more than positive results if practiced consistently.

But back to the point.

There's a reason why at the end of Ecclesiastes  the following admonishment is made:

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." --Ecclesiastes 12:13.

We can all belabor the deep subjects with all sorts of personal interpretation. But at the end of the day, what does any of my personal philosophy matter if I'm yelling at my wife or my son?

As I said, I am not good. I'm not entirely evil either, of course, but most human beings realize that life does not rest in a binary slot.

Sure, I've done many good things, in public and in secret. But these things alone do not completely define me, as they don't define others. We'd all like to think we're doing great spiritually, or at least that our characters are strong and virtuous. But the ugly truth is, we all have difficulty being that person we know we should be.

In conclusion of this somewhat ambiguous essay, let me say this:

I understand why the wisest people I know tend to talk the least.

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