Put away shameful games.
I am afraid there is nothing witty or apropos that I can link to about today’s reading. I was trying to find a comment in TC’s thread that has now split
when someone said women were not smart, but they were cunning, because cunning is all they have. I guess by that they meant manipulative.
It feels at times that we are talking to a brick wall… which is something I commented on over at Dalrocks
Johnathon said something useful
I have known very few people who were actually, genuinely, “stupid” according to the dictionary definition of the term (“characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness”). What I have seen are many people who make decisions that ultimately prove harmful to themselves because they are focused on either (a) the short-term, or (b) their own selfish desires. I have seen brilliant techniques used to achieve very selfish ends that, ultimately, destroyed the person. But in the short term they got exactly what they wanted, and they got it using very clever means.
Now there is a very good biblical term for such people. They are called fools, and there is a book in the Bible that tells us how to handle them. Called Proverbs.
And one of the core teachings in proverbs is that arguing with fools is a vexation and tedious. Part of the job of the leadership of any congregation is to weed fools out. You cannot afford them leading: they have no wisdom and no discretion.
They have to be left in the consequences of their foolishness. You cannot reason with them, and they will despise correction. Which is why the rod was made for them: the only things they understand are external controls. Like Jail.
Now, today, Paul is talking about remaining in his ministry. And putting away shameful games.
1Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12So death is at work in us, but life in you.
When Paul talks about renouncing shameful things he is talking about the sins that beset us.
But he is also talking about refusing to practice cunning. The shameful games of a fool: blaming others, manipulating their words, emotional meltdowns (the offendarii), playing the victim, not being able to distinguish what is wise from that which feels good.
A fair amount of the time in any worthwhile endeavour you are just doing it. THere is no immediate reward. You are grinding away. The training goes on, you fail as often as you succeed, but you stick at it. You put a lot of effort in for little visible gain. Then it seems to all fall together.
But that is because you have put the effort in. You have set the foundations square and true. You have spent time communing with the numbers, visualized them, done the analysis and then rechecked it, revised your review… then the draft comes. We should not give up on what is good.
We need, instead, to stop looking for shortcuts, put away the shameful games of manipulation and false cries of righteousness, and accept that this life invlves a certain quantity of effort.