The 1971 Broadway musical Godspell was controversial among Christians in small town New England, but a brave choral conductor dared to have her high school ensemble sing selections from it at a concert I attended as an elementary school student. Remember cassette recorders? My parents recorded everything with ours, and I nearly wore out the tape that summer, captivated by the harmonies of these “big kids” who had learned to sing.
I don’t know a thing about the spiritual temperature of a man named Stephen Schwartz, the composer who wrote “Day by Day,” but one thing is certain: He nailed the sequence that describes a faithful following life:
Oh, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.”
See, love, follow: this is the sequence for a life of faithfulness to God.
The heart will not follow what it does not love.Tweet
We cannot love what we cannot see and know.
Loving God and following God requires a clear view.
Jesus addressed humanity’s universal vision problem in his Sermon on the Mount:
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.Matthew 7:3-5
If I have a log in my eye, there’s no one on earth who’s going to trust me even to apply their mascara, let alone remove a speck from their eye. Theologians have suggested that the “log” we all suffer from is self-righteousness, the sin that grossly distorts our vision and which earned scathing condemnation from Jesus in his dealings with the Pharisees.
Why is it that we feel qualified to offer help to others when we are least qualified to be helpful? A self-righteous person, based on her own self-assessment, finds specks galore in others, oblivious to Jesus’s warning about the danger of passing judgment: “With the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged!” (Matthew 7:2)
Sadly, self-righteousness keeps us from mourning over our sin, owning and confessing our poverty of spirit, and coming, meekly, to the Lord for cleansing and wholeness.
Failure to see God is a failure to see anything clearly.
Lord, may we see you so clearly that we can’t miss the log in our eye, and may we be so humbly aware of our own diabolical sin of self-righteousness that we respond with borrowed grace to the shortcomings of others.
Under the mercy,
If you enjoyed my recent review of Becoming Elisabeth Elliot, you know that this week I’ve been posting snatches of Elisabeth’s wisdom paired with scenes of autumn beauty from here on my country hill. I’ll be making all those images available in one place in my October newsletter, so if you missed them on social media this is a great opportunity:
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