Sometimes I know when I’m in error. I’ve been around enough to know the sins that I am most tempted by. When my willpower fails and I commit one of these sins I know immediately afterward that I did wrong. God, forgive me, for “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). That being said, with these kinds of things, at least, I know where the battle is. The enemy is obvious and it’s just a matter of defeating him by relying on God.
Perhaps more difficult is when I don’t know I’m in error. How do I fix what I don’t know? I’m willing to acknowledge that there may be some areas of my thinking that need to be changed. I’m willing to acknowledge that it’s possible that something my parents taught me is wrong. That something years of teachers have drilled into my head is wrong. I certainly think that about other people, people growing up in denominations and other religions. I believe things they’ve been taught for years are not correct. And do they know that? Maybe not. At least not until someone with “beautiful feet” comes by.
What about me? Judging other people’s deficits seems easy. But am I qualified to do so if there is a “plank” in my own eye? Maybe I just got used to the plank and I think that’s the way people normally see. To avoid this possibility I think it’s very important to be humble, and to spend time daily with the Word of God. I think it wise to never believe myself to have “arrived.” Then I can be constantly open to the truth God is still trying to teach me through the Word and through other people.
Part of wisdom is the willingness to accept correction. “He who heeds discipline shows the way of life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17). If I can’t listen to other people then I’ll never find out what I can’t see for myself, and I will also have a bad influence on others. My physical vision is lousy, so I wear glasses. I’ll take all the help I can get spiritually, too.
The wise in heart are discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction” (Prov. 16:21)
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Prov. 16:24)
Doug Wells Camden Avenue church of Christ, Parkersburg, WV