By Elton Higgs
- On the surface, it may seem that one who is downcast because of his lack of accomplishment or his moral inadequacy is being self-deprecating. It is equally possible, however, that he is engaging in a subtly perverse game of “unholier than thou.” It may be a retreat from the obligation of godly sorrow by sharing with others a problem for which no solution is sought nor will one be accepted.
- How important it is that we learn to give over to God those activities in which we feel especially capable! Pride focuses on what we have done for God; humility focuses on what God has done for us and through us, in spite of—and sometimes because of—our weaknesses. Let us rather say, “Better to be a failure for God’s glory than a success for my own glory.”
- One cannot hope in this life to have answers to all his questions, for even life in Christ brings as many questions as answers. But one can, through giving his life to God, at least participate in the mystery. That is a great adventure!
- One cannot stop at the level of his own relative moral goodness in considering evil. Evil and its consequences are transcendent; that is the reason that bad things happen to “good” people and good things happen to “bad” people. Actually, we are all victims of (as well as participants in) Evil, and only the transcendent God can combat it. The book of Job was probably written to show that even though the Hebrews’ religion was mostly concerned with human moral matters, it was a transcendent Evil One they had ultimately to contend with.
- Mankind’s basic desires are paradoxical. On the one hand, people want security, which involves the regularization of life and therefore the abridgment of freedom and spontaneity; but, on the other hand, they also want freedom, adventure, and individuality. Perhaps one has truly fulfilled himself only when security and freedom become one for him. Is that not what God offers when we give up to Him so that He can give us back our true selves?
- A certain amount of agnosticism is a necessary part of intellectual humility. One must find a tenable mid-point between complete knowledge and complete ignorance. That is merely another way of saying that we must have enough shared knowledge to communicate with each other, but must not aspire to the power of an intellectual tyrant. Agnosticism must be approached from a desire to assume the responsibilities of reason, rather than from a desire to avoid affirming anything.
- There are many infernal counterparts to Divine Order, but these appeal to man’s desire to have everything perfectly defined so that he can be a master of knowledge. Satan’s order is only of the intellect, a merciless order demanding that everything fit into it—nothing is left unexplained, except that which remains to be explored by future research and consideration. God’s order, on the other hand, is ultimately defined by His Personality (if one can use the words “defined” and “personality” at all in regard to God). And yet, at the same time, God’s order invites the operation of intellect in apprehending it, but in a way that is free to accept things that go beyond its understanding. The order of Satan finally becomes so hard that it is brittle and shatters, while the order of God has the resilience of ongoing life and the extra dimension of intuitive truth.
- What does proper Christian motivation consist of? This is a trickier matter for a professional person than for a laborer, for a professional person must define his job as well as do it, and there is more opportunity in the latter case for one to waste time. Motivation has to do with a focused perception of goals coupled with feelings of responsibility, or perhaps of selfish ambition. Purely human motivation nearly always comes from a need for self-aggrandizement, and even that motivation which is thought to be idealistic is often merely a cloak for feelings of doubt about one’s worth. Christian motivation, then, springs from the paradoxical situation of being at the same time comfortable with oneself because God accepts him as he is, and uncomfortable enough to work hard. We should be uncomfortable when we fail to make the most of the opportunities and gifts that God has given us. But it goes beyond that. We must come to understand—to feel—that what we do with our opportunities is an act of love, a response of thanksgiving toward God.
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- The first half of one’s life is spent in coming to realize that he is not as good as he thought he was. The second half is spent in learning to live with that realization.
Image: “I wrote you” by 50 von 36,” CC License.