[(Original) Preface: for what it's worth, this is a compressed post. Its list-format may tempt readers to scan and be done with it — which, of course, is anyone's prerogative. However, it is meant to be read slowly, the verses looked up, and the thoughts reflected on. Kinda like Proverbs. Except without the deathless style and theopneustia.]
Here's how one grows:
- acquired theory
- encountered tests
- enforced reflection
- enlightened revision
To elucidate: one is instructed in life-principles. At this point, they're just theories — at best. Then one goes out "into the field," and tests them. Experience tempers, and sometimes the theories are revised or refitted. (This is one reason why God gave you parents, etc.)
That process of principle + trial + reflection is how the Sage did it (Proverbs 24:32—"Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction"), but we must do it without his inerrant inspiration.
Here, then, are some fruits of my own process and reflections. They cost you nothing. Some of them cost me a lot. Don't even bothering guessing a context. Having had experience as a 51-going-on-975-year-old Christian, a pastor, a husband, and a father, is context enough.
I hope you profit by them.
- Experience may be the best teacher—but the tuition is mighty high. (Source: pastor Reddit Andrews, quoting another pastor; it's the difference between the petî [simple] and the `ārûm [shrewd] in Proverbs [cf. 14:15].)
- Until they're tested, they're just opinions — not convictions (cf. John 13:17; James 1:22-25).
- No matter how hard you try, you'll mess up (James 3:1a). So try a little harder, and don't wait for the mess-up to embrace and acknowledge the fact that the results are ultimately in God's hands (cf. Proverbs 16:1, 9; Jeremiah 10:23).
- Sin only makes sense to itself (cf. Genesis 3), and to other apostates (Proverbs 28:4a).
- Sin makes you irrational, insane, crazy, nuts (cf. Genesis 3—Revelation 22; especially, for instance, Genesis 3:8; Numbers 13-14; Matthew 12:24; Ephesians 4:17-19).
- People locked into a sin are impervious to logic, facts and Scripture (cf. Genesis 3:9-10).
- People locked into a sin always say it's someone else's fault (cf. Genesis 3:12-13).
- People locked into a sin hate anyone who tries to tell them the truth, no matter how humbly nor lovingly (cf. 1 Kings 22:8; John 3:19-21; Proverbs 15:12).
- People in love with a sin will always find dire and horrendous fault with anyone who tries to part them from it (cf. Proverbs 9:7-8a).
- Sin destroys, ruins, kills. Its sales-line is a lie: it has nothing we really want (cp. Genesis 3:5 and 7; Romans 6:23).
- Sin doesn't care who it hurts, nor how much, nor how devastatingly, as long as it gets its way (cf. Matthew 10:34-36).
- There is no sin — no sin — that can't make an excuse for itself that makes sense to itself (cf. John 11:50; Philippians 3:19 ["they glory in their shame"]).
- Every unrepentant sinner sees himself as noble (cf. John 16:2).
- Every unrepentant sinner sees his sin as different (cf. Romans 2:3-5).
- Everything a sinner does to "fix" his situation apart from repentance only serves to make it much, much worse (cf. the sad story of Saul)
- You can't talk anyone out of sin (cf. 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
- The only and sovereign cure for sin, still, is the blood of Christ, applied through humbled repentance (cf. Matthew 3:8; Luke 5:32; 15:7; 24:47; Acts 11:18; 17:31; 20:21; 26:20). There is no "therapy" for sin (cf. 1 John 1:8-10).
- When Roman Catholics charge that Sola Scriptura makes everyone into a little pope, they're fundamentally wrong — yet they do point to a real and dire danger (cf. Proverbs 5:13; 13:1; 15:12; 19:20, etc.).
- If only perfect, "arrived" men and women can hold out the Word to other men and women, nobody will ever be able to do so (cf. James 3:1-2). That is because....
- What makes the Word of God the Word of God is that it is the Word of God, and not that it is perfectly handled by perfect people (cf. Numbers 24; 2 Peter 2:16; also Jeremiah 23:28-29).
- That fact excuses nobody for striving to be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect. It just puts first things first (cf. Matthew 5:48; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
- No matter how much you've learned, you're still pretty dim. So get the heck over yourself, and stay (or get) humble. Don't be a sucker, but keep your ears and mind open (cf. Proverbs 1:5; 9:8b-9; 12:1; ).
- Complicating that last, everyone who disagrees with your Biblical stance will accuse you of arrogance (1 Kings 22:24). Assume they may be right, and do something about it (cf. Psalm 25:9; Proverbs 3:34; 11:2; 1 Peter 5:5).
- You think you've experienced all the pain a human being can take? Wrong (cf. Psalm 88:15-16; Lamentations 3:54-55).
- You'll never out-smart the Devil, you'll never wear him down, you'll never overpower him by your own strength, endurance, or smarts (cf. Ezekiel 28:12; 1 Peter 5:7; Revelation 12:10). Never. Only God can do all those things and more. Sticking to God's Word and looking to Him is not only the best thing you can do, it's the only thing you can do (cf. Ephesians 6:10-20; Revelation 12:11). Any suspicion to the contrary is stupid beyond the ability of mere words to express (cf. 1 Kings 20:11; Proverbs 11:2; 16:18).
UPDATE: some of these were then woven into a sermon, to which I link in this post.