Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #322 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 131 and 132 today and our focus on is The Dangers of Controversy and the Wisdom of Not Concerning Ourselves With Matters Above Our Heads. C.S. Lewis on the News, Social Media,. We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\.
Quick – what’s the shortest chapter in the Bible? You have 3 seconds….did you get it? It is Psalm 117. One of our Psalms today isn’t the shortest, but it is #3- Psalm 131 – in fact, Psalm 131, 133 and 134 are all in the top four shortest chapters in the Bible. That knowledge and a quarter will get you 25 cents in the United States.
Short though it be, Psalm 131 has a powerful little punch of wisdom in in it – one of the wisest verses in the Bible that more Christians should take heed of:
Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too wondrous for me.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted my soul
like a weaned child with its mother; Psalm 131:1-2
That is an interesting illustration- the Psalmist has calmed and quieted his soul like a child that is weaned – not nursing anymore. In other words, he isn’t mewling and crying and complaining – he is completely secure like a quiet baby snug in the arms of their mother. Unfortunately, some people who claim to be Christians are anything but calmed and quieted. They rail, they sputter, they accuse, they rage, they attack,…well, you get my point. We need the wisdom of the Psalmist here now more than ever: “I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me.” Social media is awash in people outraged about this or that situation, and very often, most of the outrage and vitriol is written by people who actually have very, very little first hand knowledge of whatever situation they are commenting on, and yet that lack of first hand and reliable knowledge does not seem to keep our society from loudly and haughtily commenting on everything. This is a danger. We must guard our eyes from haughtiness and our hearts from a kind of know-it-all pride that leads us to confidently offer opinions on everything under the son. Be still my soul. Be calmed my soul. Be quieted, my soul – don’t babble on about things too great or too wondrous for me.
In the 1950s, a friend of C.S. Lewis named Mary Van Deusen asked Lewis his opinion on American general Douglas MacArthur – in light of Psalm 131, we should appreciate the wisdom of Lewis’ reply:
As to MacArthur, I don’t feel in a position to have clear opinions about anyone I know only from newspapers. You see, whenever they deal with anyone (or anything) I know myself, I find they’re always a mass of lies & misunderstandings: so I conclude they’re no better in the places where I don’t know.
C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper, vol. 3 (New York: HarperCollins e-books; HarperSanFrancisco, 2004–2007), 114.
Indeed, Lewis had a fairly low opinion of the media, finding it quite untrustworthy in terms of informing normal people like you and me the exact facts of a situation. He wrote to a friend named Mrs. Jessup this less than favorable viewpoint of the news media of his day:
But don’t send me any newspaper cuttings. I never believe a word said in the papers. The real history of a period (as we always discover a few years later) has v. little to do with all that, and private people like you and me are never allowed to know it while it is going on.
C. S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper, vol. 3 (New York: HarperCollins e-books; HarperSanFrancisco, 2004–2007), 252.
Has our journalism gotten better and more integrous in the last 70 years since Lewis wrote this, or less? I would imagine the answer is quite a bit less, so it is really difficult to know truth about situations we don’t have intimate first hand knowledge about – and thus, again, we should live by the wisdom of Psalms 131, not getting intimately involved or sharing loud opinions about that which is too great or wondrous for us.
I greatly appreciate John Newton’s letter to a friend who was about to enter into a debate with another person. In this letter, Newton humbly and wisely warns us of the danger in engaging in controversy and concerning ourselves with things too lofty and wondrous for us:
Whatever it be that makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit. Self-righteousness can feed upon doctrines as well as upon works; and a man may have the heart of a Pharisee, while his head is stored with orthodox notions of the unworthiness of the creature and the riches of free grace. Yea, I would add, the best of men are not wholly free from this leaven; and therefore are too apt to be pleased with such representations as hold up our adversaries to ridicule, and by consequence flatter our own superior judgments. Controversies, for the most part, are so managed as to indulge rather than to repress his wrong disposition; and therefore, generally speaking, they are productive of little good. They provoke those whom they should convince, and puff up those whom they should edify. I hope your performance will savor of a spirit of true humility, and be a means of promoting it in others.
This leads me, in the last place, to consider your own concern in your present undertaking. It seems a laudable service to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; we are commanded to contend earnestly for it, and to convince gainsayers. If ever such defenses were seasonable and expedient they appear to be so in our own day, when errors abound on all sides and every truth of the gospel is either directly denied or grossly misrepresented.
And yet we find but very few writers of controversy who have not been manifestly hurt by it. Either they grow in a sense of their own importance, or imbibe an angry, contentious spirit, or they insensibly withdraw their attention from those things which are the food and immediate support of the life of faith, and spend their time and strength upon matters which are at most but of a secondary value. This shows, that if the service is honorable, it is dangerous. What will it profit a man if he gains his cause and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble, tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of his presence is made?
Your aim, I doubt not, is good; but you have need to watch and pray for you will find Satan at your right hand to resist you; he will try to debase your views; and though you set out in defense of the cause of God, if you are not continually looking to the Lord to keep you, it may become your own cause, and awaken in you those tempers which are inconsistent with true peace of mind, and will surely obstruct communion with God.
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Baptist Church in Salinas, California.
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