Today’s post is something of a spiritual successor to my post “Never Enough.” We begin with Jesus talking about the Baptist and Forerunner John:
24 When the messengers of John had gone, he began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,
‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
who shall prepare thy way before thee.’
28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)
31 “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the market place and calling to one another,
‘We piped to you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not weep.’
33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine; and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of man has come eating and drinking; and you say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”
There is no pleasing or satisfying someone with their heart in the wrong place. You can do no right in their eyes. They will find something wrong with what you have done- no matter that their conclusion might be inconsistent with something they said at some earlier time.
One personal example:
Some time ago I was asked once by someone why I wasn’t interested in a particular young woman. I explained to the questioner that, unfortunately, the woman in question was quite unattractive. Far below the level where I would be able to feel any passion towards her (to put it politely). The person told me that I was being shallow by focusing on the woman’s looks. I needed to pay attention to her character- that should drive my decision.
Fast forward a little bit. Same person asks why I had rejected a different woman. I explained that this particular woman was severely lacking in character (former carousel rider). She was not marriage material, certainly for me and I would argue that at the time not for anyone (she needed to seriously reflect and change her life). The person then objected by point out: “But she is so beautiful…”
The disconnect was obvious, but the person here didn’t see it. Why? Because that person’s heart was in the wrong place. I could do not right- largely because I spoke up for myself and had my own views on what constitutes a good woman (and thus good wife).
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
These words of St. Paul seem appropriate:
Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“At the acceptable time I have listened to you,
and helped you on the day of salvation.”
Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return—I speak as to children—widen your hearts also.
(2 Corinthians 6:1-13)
What holds many back the most is not a lack of understanding, but of desire. The Corinthians were constantly admonished by the early Church because they were told the Truth, but did not desire it. They did not, as St. Paul advised, widen their hearts. This is unfortunate, but at the same time, it is not the fault of those who preach the Word. It falls on them- they are restricted by their own affections, by their own defects. Pity them, pray for them, but don’t blame yourself for them.