There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.Proverbs 14:12
With our current cultural moment weighing upon me heavily I came across some familiar words of Jesus in Luke chapter 6. After reading the words that follow I came to the conclusion that I cannot trust the reasoning of my head as reliable.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.Luke 6:27-31
As we saw previously in the example of the restoration of the withered hand, the heart is the part of us that can conceal and ignore obvious facts in order to pursue a predetermined desire or passion. In contrast, by way of reasoning, the head attempts to collect and examine all available information and then determine a course that seems right and good.
Jesus’ instruction to love, do good, bless, pray, and give to our enemies is incompatible with any human reasoning. Those behaviors are utterly foreign to us because they defy every natural instinct and go against every fiber of our being. To live in that manner would therefore require a supernatural invasion into our minds. Human wisdom fully affirms our justification and perhaps even our duty to repay those who do wrong. But Jesus says that is not the way. Instead we are to be like Him who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil (Luke 6:35-36). To be kind to the undeserving is an affront to our senses but how much more is the suggestion that you and I are included in those ungrateful and evil people that God treats generously. We are to show mercy precisely because He has shown mercy to us.
Our reasoning misses both points. We feel right and justified in condemning others because of their obvious crimes while we are blind to the fact that we also deserve condemnation. Jesus’ command to love our enemies turns life upside-down. It disorients our minds. And it reminds me that there are flaws in my way of thinking. Even after a conscientious account of all the information, my judgment remains unreliable. Left to myself, I would have never come up with the imperative to love my enemies. In other words, if Jesus had not revealed that truth, I would have never arrived at it on my own. There is a flaw in my natural self that is unable to reach the heights of understanding that Jesus reveals. There is knowledge that my mind, apart from God, has no access to. If I am wrong about how to treat my enemies, what else might I be wrong about? Isn’t it possible that in many other aspects of life what makes perfect sense to me may not be right? There is a revealed truth in God’s Word that is not attainable by any other means. To trust our reason alone, in exclusion of God’s revelation, is ultimately folly and will eventually lead to our shame.
The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?Jeremiah 8:9