When you see trouble and pain in someone else’s life, do you ever wonder what they did wrong? If so, you’re not alone. It’s a knee jerk reaction for many people, as it was for the disciples…
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:1-2 (ESV)
Well, it was one or the other, wasn’t it? Ahem, apparently not…
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3 (ESV)
The lesson here is clear: God’s ways are not our ways. We think we have Him all figured out, and we are usually wrong. Surely, in the world, some pain comes from sin (adultery with another man’s wife would tend to lead to getting chased by the angry husband with a baseball bat). However, the disciples’ question reveals two oft-repeated faults in our thinking:
1. Our natural tendency is to assume God operates by works-righteousness. If you do badly, you will get punished; if you do well, you will get rewarded. And though we (supposedly) know that salvation is by grace, we instinctively think everything else is by works – physical ailments, prayer, financial blessings, etc. When we see trouble, we naturally think that somebody sinned. When we see financial blessing, we naturally think there is holiness behind it. But Jesus made it clear, “It’s not necessarily so.”
2. Moreover, the disciples were thinking in a man-centered way. Whatever is going on in our lives or in the world, we assume a man-centered view. However, in this case, apparently the blindness had absolutely nothing to do with the man or his family; instead, God simply wanted to display His glory. We are rarely thinking along these lines.
In short, we must be careful not make hasty conclusions. Often, we have no idea why a person is in trouble or pain. And either way, they don’t need our judgmental whispers; they need our love and support.
For Friday, October 16th: John 10