Embracing limits


Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
- John 9:41

The religious refused to believe in Jesus. They refused even though they had irrefutable evidence that he could work miracles. They refused despite all of the indicators in their own religion that told them they should believe. They refused to believe what was right in front of their own eyes.

We might tell ourselves: “If only I lived back then and could see Jesus work miracles, then I’d believe.” It’s tempting to believe that, isn’t it? But the evidence points in another direction.

Whether or not we believe actually turns out to hinge on something other than the evidence we see. One person can see tremendous evidence and still discount it. Another person can see just a sliver of evidence and fuel faith and hope off of that for the rest of their lives.

What makes the difference?

It isn’t intelligence. It isn’t rationality. You can find intelligent and rational people on both sides of the fence. In this week’s passage, the person who ends up placing his faith in Jesus is the one who makes the most coherent rational argument. We’re way off base if we think that smart people just don’t have faith or that faithful people can’t be smart.

So, what makes the difference?

It looks like the difference has everything to do with humility. The formerly-blind man had the humility to profess to a healing even if he didn’t fully know its source or mechanics. Although he seems to be a very rational person, he was willing to accept that he didn’t have all the answers. The religious leaders, on the other hand, shifted between logical and emotional arguments, swaying from side to side like someone fresh off of a rocking boat. They refused to accept uncertainty, preferring to discount real evidence rather than admit they didn’t have all the answers.

Embracing uncertainty requires humility, a quality that CJ Mahaney described as “honestly assessing ourselves.” Humility doesn’t require us to beat up on ourselves; just to be honest about the areas where we make mistakes, fall short and hit limits. The honesty of humility also allows us to embrace the goodness, giftedness, and grace God has given us … and this includes any insights he’s given us about him.

Where are you tempted to resist or ignore your limits, claiming to see when you’re actually blind? How had God helped you to live within your limits? How has living within your limits shaped your character or your service?

1 Comment

Wow...such a small kernel of truth with some mighty big, life-altering consequences!! Thank you for the reminder that humility unlocks all kinds of goodness and godliness. It's that thing we continually beat back, like kudzu.

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