Show Me Your Oddballs
Beating Swords Into Plowshares

Liars, Idiots, and Humble Persons

Back in school days, I took a college course on the Gospels. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I was curious and you have to have a number of electives, so you choose the ones least egregious. The instructor was some retired Southern Baptist clergyman. He told how the old boys back in seminary would yuck it up over John‘s gospel. It was the “idiot’s gospel,” they said, since its vocabulary is markedly simpler than anywhere else in the Bible.

But sometimes simple statements have all the more power for their simplicity. We regularly drown our audience in verbosity, the purpose of which is, at least in part, to show off. Check this statement of John’s for power:

If anyone makes the statement: “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot be loving God, whom he has not seen.    1 John 4:20

Upon aligning our lives with God’s purpose, we are judged in large measure on the basis of how we get along with each other. Can’t love your brother? Then don’t even pretend that you love God.

To this end, humility is a good thing. It’s a lubricant of human relations. Act high-handed, even to those whom you have authority over, and you invariably bring out the worst in them. Thus Paul advises us to be “doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you.”  (Phil 2:3) Practically speaking, how does that work? How can everyone consider everyone else superior?

For the most part we like to think of ourselves in terms of areas in which we excel. And that’s fine…..good for self-esteem and all, but when looking at others it’s good to think differently. Surely they have some qualities in which they outstrip us thoroughly. We’ve very clever, but they’re really more loving than we are. We’re very loving, but they’re really more courageous than we are. We’re very courageous, but they’re really more generous than we are. And so forth.

Another way to see persons as superior is to focus on what they’re doing with what they have.

Jesus spoke of the fellow with 10 talents (a measure) of silver who produced 10 talents more. And the guy with 5 talents who produced 5 talents more. And then the one oaf who had one talent and didn’t do a thing with it….he buried it. We don’t all start equally; we don’t all have the same abilities, backgrounds, dispositions, genes, upbringings, etc. Therein lies a way in which to look at other people.

If so-and-so is putting out 8 talents, assume he was given 8 talents. The person putting out 4 was given 4. Strive to look at people that way. The only fellow we don’t know about for sure is ourself. We were given 5, but are maybe giving back only 4. There’s room for improvement within ourselves, but to the best of our knowledge…..we‘re not empowered to judge, you know….. the other person is doing as much as they can with what they have.

Two suggestions for viewing the other person as superior, and thus smoothing human relations. It’s all in perception. But that doesn’t make it invalid.

Incidentally, John uses that label “liar” a total of 5 times in his letter. The other four are:

If we make the statement: “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.    1:10

He that says: “I have come to know him,” and yet is not observing his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this [person].    2:4

Who is the liar if it is not the one that denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one that denies the Father and the Son.     2:22

The [person] putting his faith in the Son of God has the witness given in his own case. The [person] not having faith in God has made him a liar, because he has not put his faith in the witness given, which God as witness has given concerning his Son.   5:10

Yeah, he spoke simply, John did. And he called a spade a spade.

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Tom Irregardless and Me      No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Comments

Ed Hughes

I am afraid the grand religious education I received by the Catholic home has been mostly forgotten, maybe with the exception of the highlights. I seem to remember anything about money as being bad, whether it was the money changers at the temple, the 30 pieces of silver for Judas, or simply tithing which is demanded in some religions and not condoned in others. That brings up another point; the moneychangers of today for the biggest part are liars, cheats and many other unspeakable things I will not mention here. But they are still in charge of most peoples 10 talents which have been reduced to about 6 talents by their, and others folly’s. How then is this multitude of people whose talents have been reduced judged?

Respectfully,
WMM

tom sheepandgoats

A friend of mine (Native American Mohawk no less) told his overly-cheery financial adviser "Look, I know the score. I was born in a depression. I'm going to die in a depression."

I hope he's wrong. (I think he's wrong) But there are a lot of plans that have been scuttled by recent events and a lot of shock endured.

Bill in Detroit

Ed ... the money is symbolic. If you ever had 10 talents, you still do. The question then becomes "how have you invested them (in God's behalf)?

Bear in mind the end for the slave with only one talent who did nothing with it.

Have you followed Jesus' instructions at Matthew 24:18,19?

If not, stop by a local Kingdom Hall. That's what they do best.

Victrix

John was also known in the Bible as the "the diciple whom Jesus used to love" (footnote or prefer).

John above all the other gospels really shows that he had a keen grasp and understanding of how important love is to Jehovah and Jesus. For example see John 13:35.

John is the only one that details Jesus' prayers at such length.

John loved, he was unhypocritical and thus Jehovah was able to use him to write what he did there in 1 John about love, God being love.

John above all the other gospel writers seemed to have a greater appreciation for this (not that the others didn't, but his keen awareness of this was greater than that of the others) no wonder Jesus considered him as special.

Maybe his words were simple, but they got to the heart of matters. Pun intended.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

Vitrix...

I took this course long before I became a Witness and at the time I didn't know John from a bail of hay. But I've often thought back about that professor. He wasn't mean, nor was he outwardly haughty, but implicit in calling someone else an idiot is the understanding that the author must regard himself as measurably more intelligent. That probably says it all. It's hard to imagine he had the same appreciation of John's spiritual qualities as you laid out.

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