When I was a child, I loved reading books like Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables. I particularly loved the detail given in Little House on the Prairie for how they lived day to day. I thought it was a wonderful time to live and I was sure I would have enjoyed living as a pioneer. But, now that I am an adult, I know that it would have been a difficult life. I enjoy history and I have often found myself wondering how I would have responded during different periods in history. I learn by watching other people, which may be why I like history. I once had a teacher explain why history was so important - we could learn from both the successes and failures of others. We could learn from other people's mistakes so we don't need to make them again. But with that said, we also need to be careful of pointing fingers at past mistakes because the reality is that we have no idea how we would have responded if we lived during that period. Who we are is shaped by our experiences and by learning from the past. So, we have a very different perspective from people who lived before us. With that thought in mind, please read Matthew 23:29-39.
In these verses, we read how Jesus points out that the Pharisees condemn Israel from the past because they killed the prophets God sent. They claimed that they would have honored the prophets rather than killed them, but Jesus pointed out that their hearts were no different. In fact, Jesus prophesied that they would do the same to the teachers, wise men, and prophets He would be sending. He told them that they were no different from the Jerusalem of the past. This is something that is important to consider. I think we need to be very careful of our attitudes when we are reading through the Bible and how we think about the people we are reading about. We are all human and we all come from very different experiences.
Instead of feeling good about ourselves while we point our fingers at the Pharisees we read about in the Bible, we should be looking at why Jesus was warning them. We should be looking at why God felt it was so important to document those moments in the Bible so we could read them today. Perhaps it has been placed in the Bible for us to read today because we are also likely to fall into the same or similar trap. We are human, which means that we face the same temptations that people have faced throughout history. If we can look at these verses and ask what we learn about God's heart and what we learn about what God wants from us, we can stay away from judging those who lived before us.
Let's not be guilty of the the same thing that Jesus was warning the Pharisees of. Let's not assume that we would have lived better than them because we really don't know if we would have. Let's instead ask what we need to do today to keep from falling into the same trap. Let's spend time developing our relationship with God which will help us focus on changing ourselves rather than changing the behavior of everyone around us. Let's spend time in prayer asking God to guard our hearts from the temptations of this world. Let's spend time asking God to probe our hearts and point out the things that need to change in ourselves. Isn't it beautiful that God has given us this opportunity to learn and grow through the rich history in the Bible.
How are you learning from the history given to us in the Bible?
This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty.