Humanity is set up for failure in so many ways. A recent “discussion” (a.k.a. argument) in my living room reminded me of my fallibility and tendency to sin without even knowing it.
As you may or may not know, I am what some might call a “self-feeding” Christian. By this I mean that I don’t go to church on Sunday expecting the sermon and worship there to satisfy my soul for another week. I read the Bible daily, journal to help apply what I learned and to assess my thoughts and motives, and I read Christian literature extensively- almost exclusively. I learn a lot from continually filling my brain with wisdom written by people who knew or know God well. It is good thing.
I get enthusiastic about what I learn and I want to tell everyone I know how they too should learn this or apply that to their lives. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm I am pretty sure I have broken all the rules for how to correctly share knowledge, and I am going to share with you all the how-not-to’s as I have enacted them.
- I’ve so completely mis-communicated good ideas that all meaning was lost.
- I’ve had such awful, insensitive timing while “helping” someone that it’s a miracle they still speak to me.
- I’ve contradicted opposing viewpoints, even after hearing that the statement I’d contradicted was “the only thing getting me through a tough time”.
- I’ve unknowingly and knowingly shared something with people completely disinterested, unprepared, or flat-out unwilling to hear it.
- I’ve unintentionally delivered information in such a way that completely erased any merit the info might have had (ex: rudely speaking about how if we just did _____ then the world would be more full of kindness).
- I’ve interrupted people to tell them what I know.
- I’ve naively started arguments over spiritual strategy.
- I’ve pushily told people why they should try a new strategy, adopt a new mindset, change their actions, etc. while not doing those things in my own life.
- I’ve changed the topic of a conversation started by someone else, just so I could spew some more of my hard-earned knowledge.
- I’ve even tried to change the priorities of people in authority over me- stepping far out of bounds.
Oh, so much enthusiasm. But my enthusiasm is often a cloak masking some bigger problems. When I strip away the layers of this hypothetical onion, I realize that my desire to be share knowledge is often driven by pride. At the front I want you to learn so you can change, but there’s still a small part of me that wants you to learn from me so you will admire me and tell people about how smart and wise and worthy of respect I am.
While it is good to want to see the world transformed by the love of Christ and the amazing power He has to change lives completely, it’s not my job. Transformation is the Holy Spirit’s job. And while it is good to speak honestly and openly about things that people might need to address in their lives, there are right and wrong ways to do it. I’ve done all the wrong things, but thankfully I can change. The Holy Spirit gave/gives me power to do so, and the Bible encourages me to use that power. All that is required is repentance. In order to change my actions (that’s what repentance is) I need to know what I am doing wrong, but also the right way to behave. That said, here is a tiny bit of what the Bible says about wisdom.
James, the brother of Jesus, knew how to be clear.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you find envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-18)
I think that in order to truly change what type of wisdom I have, I’m going to need to be in constant contact with the giver of all true wisdom. That requires prayer. And I will need to love people more so I can be sensitive and gentle. Listening more would be helpful too. And having Zero Tolerance for lies that I try to tell myself- such as “I’m doing it for their good” or “I just want them to have victory” when my real motives are “So they will like me more” or “So I will have the reputation of being a smart person”.
I can see why I’ve been convicted about this area of my life. I can also see God’s grace in telling me to change so that I don’t ruin all of my friendships at once! If I acually have the humility that comes from true wisdom, I will be okay with people not knowing just exactly how much I know.