The Humility of Growing and Learning
You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us? John 9:34
I understand that I don’t know everything about faith and recovery. Still, I grew up with a Pastor for a father and so, I know the Bible reasonably well. I was trained as a physician and I’ve been in recovery for several years. I still wrestle with my own arrogance, and deep down, if I’m honest, there’s a part of me that thinks I’ve got life all figured out. I like superheroes, so I’ve named my alter ego Captain Recovery. Captain Recovery isn’t a good superhero though. He thinks he knows everything and is too prideful to learn from anyone. In his know-it-all state, he has become profoundly ignorant, and is thus, incapable of growth.
Once, a couple years ago, I put on Captain Recovery’s cape and set out to volunteer at the local jail. I planned to use my wisdom to help those poor, needy, incarcerated souls. At the jail, I quickly realized that those guys had learned a lot of lessons that I still needed to learn. Yes, I was there to help them, but in spending time with others who struggled with addiction, I recognized that if I wanted to keep growing, I needed to choose the humility of listening to and learning from others. Being a know-it-all isn’t helpful in faith or recovery.
It was this know-it-all posture that the Pharisees modeled in today’s passage. In the story, the Pharisees interrogated a blind man whom Jesus had healed. They insisted that the man confess Jesus to be a sinner, and not of God, but the man argued that the power to heal could only have come from God. The Pharisees were outraged that this lowlife would presume to teach them something of spiritual matters. They were the religious elite. You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us? The Pharisees thought they knew everything, but in their arrogance, they refused to listen, learn, or grow, and thus, became deaf to the truth.
The lesson for us (and for Captain Recovery) is that no matter how much we know, we will never know everything. We will always have something to learn, even from those we deem to be less wise. This requires humility though. In our arrogance, we stop growing and become like the Pharisees, deaf to the truth. If we desire to grow, we must choose the humility of learning from those God puts in our lives.