The Man Who Would Not Be Moved

As is often the case, I tend to habitually reflect on the sermon messages I hear at Sabbath services and seek to provide some sort of elaboration on them, not only to describe them but also to respond to them in some fashion based on where I am at at a given time. Today, after some introductory comments, the gentleman giving the sermon message spoke on the need to overcome [1] and grow by embracing five different aspects of life: change, although not change for the sake of change, criticism [2], one’s strengths and weaknesses [3], letting go of the past [4], and contentment [5]. I suppose the fact that I have written at length and frequently about many of these issues suggests that I consider personal growth and overcoming to be a matter of considerable importance and that I agree that at least the five factors the speaker encouraged our congregation to embrace are important. This should not imply that I consider myself to be necessarily skilled at any of these matters, only that I do my best to struggle with them, with varying degrees of success in the matter.

It is often striking to me that those who practice criticism the most, and preach about the importance of taking it well, are not always the best at accepting it from others. This is at least as true of me as it is of anyone else. For example, nearly every day I write at least one post, if not more, that are explicit criticisms of books, movies, sermon messages, albums, concerts, and so on. Almost every single day I offer criticism of some fashion, some of it because I am contractually obligated to do so, and some of it because I simply criticize so often that one just keeps it up out of force of habit. I would like to think that, for the most part, I am a critic that is fair-minded, open about my biases or what hits me in uncomfortable personal areas and thus incurs a bit more harshness than might normally be the case, and that I work hard to find matters worthy of praise in anything that I criticize, even if that takes a lot of work. That said, it is equally true that I tend to be somewhat prickly about criticism for myself, as well as for my own writings and speaking, even if I am well aware that I am not perfect, just as the works I critique are not perfect, even if they are often good.

Not only are some people, myself included, often particularly thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, but I have noticed that sometimes there are entire categories of people who are not considered to be acceptable critics. It is one thing to quote scripture, like Proverbs 15:12, which reads: “A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, nor will he go to the wise,” or Proverbs 18:1-2, which reads: “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart,” but it is another to actually live according to these principles. Some people, for example, may feel that my own overflowing writing is the foolish expression of my own heart without a desire to understand others, regardless of how often I express a desire to understand others. Likewise, there are people who sincerely claim a desire to have constructive criticism for their own growth who resent that criticism from their wives or from children or from subordinates because such criticism threatens their view of the established order that should exist, regardless of whether or not that criticism is valid and can be learned from. Far more often than the form of criticism leading to its rejection, although that happens often enough, it is the source of the criticism that causes problems for many of us.

This leads to other difficulties when it comes to embracing change and growth as well. It is hardest to let go of wounds when they hit us from vulnerable places. No one knows the weak spots to attack better than those who know us well, who have studied our vulnerabilities, recognized our patterns, and who for reasons of affinity or relation we have allowed inside our defenses, with occasionally disastrous consequences. Little more about that needs to be said; we can all fill in the blanks with our own stories about the wounds that are the hardest to let go in our lives, and the consistent patterns of abuse from people close to us that are involved in all of that. Likewise, our longings, not merely for material matters but even more so for love and intimacy and relationships, are a major barrier to contentment. Yet no matter what difficulties or longings in our life hinder our development or embrace of contentment, the speaker’s comments rang particularly true that God will not pour blessings into a bottomless pit, where they will never be recognized or appreciated. God will not move the man who will not be moved, even if He, and many others, will mourn that such a man could not be moved, no matter how earnestly and persistently we sought to explain or persuade him. Our blessings, after all, are to serve for the glory of God, and for the benefit of others, and so we will only be blessed in ways that will bring God glory and that will be used for service. If we choose to seek our own prestige and power, without regard for the service we give to others, we only have the fearful expectation of future judgment for abusing that which we have as stewards, and for failing to serve others as we have been called to do.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/he-who-overcomes/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/book-review-thinking-about-movies/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/jane-austen-outrage-culture-and-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/you-never-listen-to-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/i-dont-want-to-stay-where-the-blames-all-mine/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/a-bloggers-hymn-a-meditation-on-psalm-141/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/a-review-of-my-strengths-finder-report/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/on-discovering-your-strengths-in-the-heat-of-crisis/

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/book-review-forgiving-our-fathers-and-mothers/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/a-change-in-the-nature/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/start-again/

[5] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/the-problem-of-contentment/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Man Who Would Not Be Moved

  1. Pingback: A Change Would Do You Good | Edge Induced Cohesion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s