Thursday, February 12, 2015

Revelation 3:17-18 -- On Sight and Progress

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Revelation 3:17-18

So often in life we walk around in a daze, not really seeing what is right in front of us.  I was reading about a study the other day that shows that we tend to greatly overestimate our abilities and are unaware of the reality of our own incompetence. (A summary seems to be listed under the "Dunning–Kruger effect" on Wikipedia, if you would like to read more about it.)  I think that is part of what God is talking about here.  We look at our lives and think, wow, I'm really doing great.  We start thinking that we don't need help from God or anyone... but we aren't seeing reality.  And since we can't see it, God is telling us: we're wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.  We look at ourselves and think... oh, no, I'm okay.  But that's what the psychological study and God have just told us.  We don't have the ability to see our own problems.  I've seen it as a teacher and a manager before.  People who think they are great at spelling or grammar so they don't check their own work, and lots of errors come through.  Or people who greatly overestimate their social skills, and so don't work to improve them, even though it is harming their relationships.  I think that it happens to all of us about different things.  And that is where humility and determination kick in.  If science and God are both telling us that we might not be as cool as we thought, then there are some things that we can do about it.  We can start really listening to feedback, and not blowing it off.  We can take some time to look at ourselves and find areas where we need to improve.  We might not see them all at first, but there is always something, and it helps to be open to our own faults. :)  And of course we can ask God.  Additionally, there are some things right here that God is already telling us.  He says to buy our gold from him.  What he has is the true treasure, even if we are blind to that.  He talks about white raiment, a reference to the temple and being worthy to enter his presence.  And he says that we can anoint our eyes with eyesalve, which I think means that we should be working to see ourselves as we actually are, as God sees us.
One thing I want to mention here is that I don't mean at all that we should hate ourselves, or think that we are worthless.  We are not.  All the descriptors that God uses above are of people who need help, not people that might as well give up.  We should never give up.  God sees us as beautiful and valuable, even when we are filthy and suffering.  I am only suggesting that we realize that we all have problems, and specific problems seeing what our faults are sometimes.  We all have a vast need to learn and grow and become better.
Today, let's be humble.  Let's listen to God, and talk to him about where we need to improve.  Let's trust him when he gives us feedback, and let's value his gospel as a treasure beyond anything we could ever attain monetarily.  Let's never settle for the status quo.  Let's improve, ourselves and the world around us, and never stop improving.  Let's become as cool as we think we are. :)

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