I sat in the coffee shop listening to the young woman behind me explain a passage in the bible to her friend. She was telling her friend just what Jesus meant in this particular passage and how she knew what He really meant even though it wasn’t actually said because she had been studying the Bible for a long time.
I listened for a while cringing at her words. I cringed because that young woman was me 30 years ago. I thought I had this whole Bible thing figured out. I was quite confident I understood exactly what it was saying and was also quite self-righteous about it. I am so very grateful for grace and maturity.
It’s amazing how much we think we know in our youth, but life and experience have a way of giving us those teachable moments that soften our pious edges, because that’s where the growth begins.
I had many teachable moments, but the one that stands out most was having a discussion with a widow and telling her that God could handle her “petty” anger. As soon as the words were out of my mouth I was horrified. Of course God can handle our anger, she didn’t need me to tell her that at this time. And why in the world would I call a new widows anger petty? Probably because I thought I had all the answers and was trying to show this woman just how knowledgeable I was.
The humiliation continued when I got in the car and my mother said to her 23 year old daughter, “I know you are excited about your faith, but you really don’t know what you don’t know.” Ugh!
“So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:28
I didn’t intend to be a hypocrite, but I made my very limited knowledge about God’s word and God himself about me, not God. Like the Pharisees, I got caught up in the words of the Bible without the love, allowing myself to become sanctimonious and judgmental.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2
I am so thankful that the woman who had just lost her husband already had that love along with her faith. When I called her to apologize she was forgiving and showed me grace that came from her deep love of her Savior. She was an incredible example to me when I needed to see that there was more to faith than knowledge. I have never forgotten that and learned so much from her humble example.
Today, I have learned that my journey of learning and understanding will never end this side of heaven, and it’s exciting to me. It’s exciting to read a passage I have read many times before and find a new nugget of knowledge I have never seen before. I love telling people about the Bible and how much Jesus loves them. But today I actually love sharing those things with others, rather than showing off to them what I think I know.
The Pharisees had faith and knowledge and a great command of the rules God had given to Moses. They believed that was enough. Jesus believed all those things and added a servants love that changed the world. And we are blessed to have His example to help us see how love changes that same world.
Whatever you do today, just add love. It could change the world.