It’s said that the devil’s favorite sin is pride, and so perhaps our first and greatest misconception is that we, as humans, can ever fully understand God’s perspective on ourselves, our situations, or others. Perhaps our ability to do great good grows in proportion to our willingness to recognize our own fallibility. Could this be Paul’s meaning, when he said,
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:19)
One significant weakness from which we all suffer, to a greater and lesser extent, is the failure to see clearly, as God sees. To quote Paul again, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Cor. 13).”
Yet, the Bible also warns us that, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (proverbs 29:18). How, then, to gain truer vision? In his book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness, James P Gills MD points to common misperceptions and the harm they have tended to cause to us and others. This book, hailed as ‘thought provoking and challenging’ by Billy Graham, offers the acronym ‘TRUST’ (we paraphrase as “Thank God, Rejoice, Understand, Sing out and exhibit Thoughtfulness”) and calls out:
- a preoccupation with sin and legalism and a distorted view of sex, and a separation of sex from spirituality [consider proverbs 5:18-20] – it’s not simply an adherence to outward rules (while lust rages in the heart), but a positive and uplifting covenant between two people who love each other under God.
- ingratitude, envy and fear fueling a sense of self dependence, personal ambition and materialism rather than abiding in Love, reliance and service (self involvement and lack of the ability to surrender to a higher purpose).
The first step in overcoming any obstacle is to recognize that it exists. If we know that we see through our human lens, through a glass darkly, we can pray for clear seeing, and temper all our actions with the attitude of the humble servant. Aware of our limitations –our weakness – we can still do great things. We can offer increasing insight, guidance, hope, and comfort. We can be an instrument of healing, and of peace. For, as Paul counsels, “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phillipians 4:13).