Pat on the Back

pat-on-backBe careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)

It’s difficult to walk the line of being an example for others without calling attention to yourself. We want to encourage and challenge others, but we need to do so humbly. And that’s difficult in today’s social media-saturated culture. There are so many voices screaming for everyone’s attention.

But maybe that’s not all that different from the past. Sure, the method of delivery, speed, and availability might be different, but the inundation of voices have probably been challenging in different ways through the years.

And no matter the specific challenges, humility will always be in style. Well, perhaps not in style, but a good goal to have.

Gullible Know-It-All

As we walked through the ruins of Bethsaida, we paused near the palace.

11.3.14 Bethsaida palace (2)


Use your imagination. I know it looks nothing like a palace. The footprint of the remains are larger than this photo. Plus, palace by today standards and palace by “then” standards aren’t necessarily the same.

Anyway, right next to these remains is a much smaller foundation of remains labeled “Fisherman’s House.” I have to admit I would never have thought about this without our guide pointing it out: Was it feasible that this was actually the fisherman’s house? Why would the fisherman, someone who wouldn’t have had a high position in the community, live next to the palace?  Do we just want there to be a fisherman’s house at Bethsaida, since the disciples Andrew and Simon Peter were fisherman from Bethsaida (John 1:44)?

I looked online (as if finding information online proves the truth) and found a possible answer. The remains are from different periods of time. The Fisherman’s House is from the Roman period, and the palace is from the Iron Age.

Well, that makes sense.

But is it correct?

It’s funny how gullible we can be to believe something and then become adamant about its absolute truth because we read it on a sign, heard it from a “reliable” source, or saw it (in our Facebook feed?). We think we know it all, but we haven’t stopped to really think through it. We haven’t gathered any perspectives except what supports our own. We refuse to explore additional possibilities. Our know-it-all claims make us vulnerable to pass up important information and absorb distorted truths.

I don’t know whether or not those stacks of stones are a fisherman’s house, palace, or something completely different. I could get my degree in archeology and research it with a lot more insight, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, I think I’ll just admit I’m not sure and take away the lesson that I need to ask good questions, pay attention to my sources, and be humble in what I think I know.

I don’t need to know it all. But I always need to be willing to learn.