Preconceptions; June 2, 2017


1 Samuel 8:19-20 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

This chapter is a perfect example of “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” The people heard Samuel through such a filter of their own preconceptions that they might as well not have heard him at all. Hearing all the warnings from verses 10 through 18, probably each of those elders imagined that they would be high in a king’s court, and all the negatives would fall on other people. We do that sort of thing all the time, fitting – or forcing – any information we receive into the framework of our preconceptions and essentially discarding anything that won’t fit. It’s easy to see how foolish that is when other people do it, but we don’t even realize when we ourselves are doing it. That happens constantly. America is so polarized today because of exactly this sort of thing. The only real solution is genuine humility before God, asking and allowing Him to show us what the situation really is and how we are to act in it. Anyone who does not have that attitude is open game for the devil, who is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44) The tricky thing is, that same devil does all he can to get us to despise those who don’t hold the same opinions we do. Correct or incorrect is entirely beside the point here. Even if we are entirely correct (which most of us are convinced we are) we are to speak the truth to others in love, not try to wield it as a weapon. The Word of God is indeed “sharper than a two-edged sword,” (Hebrews 4:12) but even it must be used without malice or pride. We are to stand firm in the truth God has shown us, but at the same time realize that nothing else comes up to that level. A quick look at history shows that “scientific consensus” has been wrong almost more times than we could count. The elders who came to Samuel had consensus!

I am very much in the middle of this issue, as probably every thinking person is. I am continually amazed at some of the opinions and positions people hold, and sometimes saddened at who holds those positions. However wrong I am sure they are, they are still worthy of love and respect, even when I can’t begin to agree with them. That can be difficult! I am to seek truth, seek God, in all humility and never in pride, convinced that I am the correct one. As Joy Dawson has taught, I am to die to the very issue about which I am seeking an answer. That is, I’m not to prejudge it, but let God show me His truth even if it completely upends what I had thought previously. God is the only one who sees and knows it all; no one on the face of this planet is in that position. (1 Corinthians 13:12) I’ve got to be at peace with that, and rest in God’s love.

Father, I’ve fought with intellectual pride most of my life, and it’s not done me much good. Help me remember that You’re smart and I’m not, so that I can hear You and love others, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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