My thoughts (Steve Adams):
It’s a Debate! Let’s Leave!
When I read the ongoing debate between Jesus and the Pharisees in the last few chapters, I feel uncomfortable. If I had my choice, I’d much rather have seen the Sermon on the Mount. I picture it as a beautiful summer sunset, sitting with a group of people eager to hear the Lord. . . stars begin to appear as truth opens up before our eyes!
Sometimes a Challenge is Good!
But, debate is a necessary part of life! Had the Pharisees not tried to trap Jesus in argument, we wouldn’t have His exquisite answer to “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Dialoging and debating with those who have a different opinion often serves to clarify, sharpen, and refine our beliefs. On the negative side, though, over-emphasis on debate can result in bias, causing me to want to learn new information only for the sake of buttressing my argument. And, if I learn something that’s contrary to my opinion, then overzealous partisanship will cause me to try to discredit, disregard, or dismiss it. This process certainly thwarts true learning.
Room for Both
There’s a dilemma here isn’t there? On one hand, I want to have firm, even unshakable conviction in what I believe. Yet, on the other hand, I want to always be open, even eager, to learn new information. That openness always has the potential to cause me to modify — or even change — my convictions. So, these are not easy issues, are they? I take comfort, though, that I can cling to my convictions and yet at the same time be open to new information, even if it takes me to some surprising places.
I’d Like Truth, Please!
Jesus challenged the Pharisees to think by asking them a question. Were they going to cling to their error or get real? There’s an obscure phrase in the Bible that, if we have it, blasts away all spiritual bias to smithereens! In II Thessalonians 2 Paul speaks of people who don’t have a love of the truth and end up being terribly deceived.
Do I have the love of the truth? Is it more important to me than being right? With a love of the truth, I might learn things that contradict what I believe. When that happens, God gives me a choice to go with what’s true, or with my opinion. It sounds easy, but what, if like the Pharisees, I’ve invested my whole life in an inferior system?
This points to the critical importance of utilizing one of the foundational building blocks — daily prayer, in which we open our souls to God and listen, seeking wisdom with all of our hearts. After going through the challenges, distractions, and temptations of life, it’s only God who can recalibrate our spiritual compasses. Jesus made time for intense prayer — shouldn’t you and I do the same?
Thought for the day: Lord, I ask You for the spiritual versatility to both listen for what I need to learn (from You and others), and to speak what needs to be spoken.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.