How well do you know yourself? Truly?
Do you know yourself well enough to know that you might be blind to how well you know yourself? Your proclivities? Your recurring patterns and cycles of behavior? Your knee-jerk responses to situations observable from the outside world?
The wisest man in history, in the book of Proverbs, writes: “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” And again: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”
Many a time, I have confronted a man on his pornography abuse, only to have him squabble with me about how we all have our sins, and who knows his sins better than himself? And whose sins torment whom more than the one who knows them best? And what a burden! But since we all have our own sins… it is a burden the knower must carry.
Eventually, it turns into a defensive, self-justifying, “only God can judge me (and I’m gonna hold onto my porn)” sort of conversation because, after all, this person knows himself and (presumably?) what is best.
Well, at best, I think that this person knows how to tangle a conversation into something utterly indiscernible, but not how to walk in wisdom.
If we are going to learn to make wise choices, to see our sins and the choices that spur them on, and if wise men and women listen to advice, then I think that we need to live this life with other people. We have got to get this – we at XXXChurch pound the beat of the same drum over and over – accountability, community, a life lived in the light as Jesus is in the light. Jesus, who is faithful and just to forgive us of sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately. Frankly, I’ve done a very poor job of this, and only recently has my wife confronted me (lovingly) to say: Levi, you do a good job of baring your past before others as a public performance artist, but you do a bad job of bringing your present struggles before those friends that are closest to you. I’d had a vague feeling that I’d not done the best job of communicating my sins and struggles with friends and church family that are willing and wanting to pray for me, but Brandi’s wisdom, empowered by the Holy Spirit, hammered the nail on the head and specified my negligence:
I’d been a fool, keeping things in the dark and believing what was right in my own eyes.
But it wasn’t right. In fact, much of what I’d been believing were lies. And this is why it is so important to bring our lives before the council of others: there is wisdom in numbers, there is often maturity and age and experience and advice to be offered, prayer to be lifted up, mentorship and discipleship to be taken advantage of, and a deeper, truer understanding of ourselves as objectively given from persons that we can trust to be had.
How do we learn to make wise choices? Surely it is knowing what makes you tic. Surely it is understanding what is not wise. Surely it is knowing what things tempt you, isolate you, take you away from Godly council, cause you to forget the love of God and his sustenance. Surely it is running from those things…
And yet, here is another drum you will hear me beat repeatedly: it is not just running from something that we are commanded to do, it is Christ’s hand extended towards us that truly changes a man. Let us run towards him. If all I gave you were directives to be obeyed throughout this week – if all I said was “make good choices” – you’d be left with nothing to empower your obedience.
Jesus doesn’t do that. Jesus empowers our change. The foolishness of believing that our sins are ours to carry (like the men I mentioned above) is that we simply cannot carry them – nor do we have to any longer! Jesus carried our sin to the cross. He killed it. It was buried with him, and its power was defeated at his resurrection! He has given us the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf – to convict, to confront. The Spirit is true wisdom, and for the Christian, the Spirit is alive and working inside of you. Heed His voice through the Scriptures, through your conscience, through the wisdom of other believers that are able to speak into your life.