The scribes and Pharisees lived unexamined lives. They would not put truth to the test. They would not put their firmly held-traditions and beliefs to the test. As a result, they missed the greatest spiritual awakening the world has ever known!
And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath so that they might find a reason to accuse him. But he knew their thoughts and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there.
And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or harm, to save life or destroy it?” And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored.
But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:7-11, emphasis added).
A spiritual leader must “test everything, [and] hold fast to what is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21). And while they must develop strong biblical convictions, they must also be willing to evaluate themselves, their assumptions, and their beliefs against the word of God and the working of the Spirit. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. And the same could be said for an unexamined theology.
As Jesus began his ministry, he turned over a lot of theological apple carts and pushed over a lot of sacred cows. This was intentional, not because he sought to be controversial, but because he wanted men and women to think rightly about truth. He wanted people to experience life, true spiritual life!
The poor heard him gladly. The meek found freedom in his words. The humble saw the miracles, felt the power, listened to his gracious words, sensed his uniqueness, and considered that this might be the Messiah.
However, the teachers of the law were condemned because they refused to evaluate their assumptions. They saw, heard, and felt the same things the crowds saw, heard, and felt but refused to consider Jesus’ claims. Because they placed their man-made traditions on equal footing with the word of God, because they made a living holding people captive to these traditions, and because they enjoyed the praise of men and the many side benefits of their profession, they refused to believe or consider that they could be self-deceived. They closed their ears, hardened their hearts, and condemned themselves.
They feared the truth. They feared what any other understanding of God‘s word might cost them.
Humility is the queen of all virtues. It means that I, like the New Testament Bereans, must be willing to listen, to compare scripture with scripture, to hold counsel with saints, and to seek truth with diligence, even if it turns my theological apple cart upside down! We can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us according to his word and need not fear the truth!
Father of Jesus, “You delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6). Don’t let me believe my own lies or be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness. Make my heart tender toward the truth of your word. Let me be careful of dangerous deceptions all around me. But let me be humble enough to evaluate my beliefs and assumptions in the light of your word and to consider that I might be mistaken. In Jesus name, amen.