Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Galatians 1:18-2:10

Oftentimes after work I go to the gym to work out, and usually I listen to music while I’m exercising to keep my mind off of how much I actually loathe working out and how badly I never ever want to go to the gym again. However, yesterday I couldn’t find my mp3 player and thus found myself idly watching the TV while I ran on the treadmill. I caught the last few minutes of “Dr. Phil”, and interestingly the reading from today reminds me of my brief glimpse of the show. At the end of the program a troubled woman proclaimed that she felt that she had gotten nothing out of the entire program and had found the entire thing useless.

It’s so frighteningly easy to become so embroiled in a situation that it becomes nigh impossible to see it clearly. This is true for ugly cases like arguments and fights, for disagreements and bitter grudges, but the same holds true for sincere attempts at charity and heartfelt desires to do God’s will in the world. Sometimes we get so tightly wound up in ourselves that we forget about the people we’re helping… or hurting. Sometimes we become so blinded by our own failings or achievements that we cannot clearly see anyone else’s. Sometimes we are so convinced of our own rightness that we cannot clearly see the path ahead, and sometimes this conviction binds us fighting tooth and nail to the path we have chosen, no matter how perilous or winding it may be. Of course sometime we are right, and sometimes the path is a good one that leads to godly and great things. However, it is all too often that selfhood creeps innocuously into our blood, that our perceptions are altered, our biases expressed, and crucial matters are overlooked. It is for this reason that no matter what we undertake, may it be a project for work or service, a mission trip, or even a simple disagreement, an outside opinion always helps to put us back into perspective. A learned, outside opinion can help us know what we are doing wrong and what we are doing right.

When the woman on TV voiced her doubt, Dr. Phil agreed with her that right now, she was getting nothing out of the program. He then told her to rewatch the show at least five times, until she felt that she was watching it all from an outsider’s view—then, and only then could she pick up on the things that others could see so clearly that she just simply could not understand at the present moment. As cheesy and ridiculous as Dr. Phil can be, there is some truth in this.

In Galatians 2:2 we find Paul consulting the church leaders to see if his work is being done “in vain”—if he is mistaken in his interpretation of God’s word. The church leaders affirm Paul’s convictions, giving him the strength of their encouragements and blessings. However, even someone as close to Paul needed an outside source to look at his work and tell him if it was good and righteous; he turned to godly men to evaluate him honestly and truthfully, because he knew he himself was too involved to do any such thing. No matter how sure we are of our own rightness and godliness, it is never a mistake to turn to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially to God Himself, for an honest second opinion.

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