There are those who accomplish great things. And then there are those who have neither the grit, nor the talent, nor the patience to do so and yet wish to receive the same amount of credit. I try to associate with the first group as much as possible, hoping some skill and/or wisdom may somehow rub off. I try to avoid the second group entirely — but since their number seems to be growing every day, and since they all appear to be on social media, I am growing frustrated.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” I like the way the New American Standard Bible reads here — “a root” instead of “the root,” as it is translated elsewhere. It is silly to suggest that the love of money is “the” cause of evil in this world. But it is certainly “a” cause — and one that rears its ugly head in all sorts of circumstances.
We all love the story of Naaman from 2 Kings 5. We may even get a chuckle or two out of the great Aramean general’s assumptions about how God’s prophet would cleanse him of leprosy, and how he appeared willing to go home in a huff rather than reconsider his preconceptions. “Behold, I thought” — it has made for many a sermon title over the years, including one or two from me.
But are we that much better than Naaman?
My podcast listeners will remember I made reference recently to a collection of quotations from Mark Twain, perhaps the most beloved of all American writers. Although he was a masterful storyteller and social critic, he is perhaps best known for his quippy one-liners and witticisms. He knew better than most that truth gets through hard skulls better when accompanied by a bit of humor. We all (well, most of us) instinctively are inclined to laugh at ourselves; when we give ourselves a chance, we may motivate ourselves to grow.