I found this quote by C.S. Lewis when I was reading an article about the biological basis for behavior on Adrian Warnock’s blog. I find it to be a very compassionate and ultimately loving take on our biology and bodies and choices. It’s one more reason to be humble.
“Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends.
Can we be quite so certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with a bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler ? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.
Most of a man’s psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be some suprises.”
I believe that having this attitude towards others in the church could transform our relationships. Instead of being comparison-oriented, one-upping, superior-in-our-own-minds, judging people, we could be, simply, loving. Slow to judge, slow to think of myself more highly than I ought (I’m preaching to myself here).
What a liberating thing to know that some of our problems and our neighbors’ problems are not solely due to our individual choices. What a sweet incentive to rely on God all the more. Works will never get me there, because I am not in final control even of who I am.
Everything good in me is grace.
Whether grace in upbringing, grace in biology, grace in easy pregnancy, grace in a considerate husband, grace in sweet kids. Everything good is grace. I can’t make anything good by my self-wrought trying and works.
This is why comparison to anyone but Christ is so deadly. When I compare myself to my neighbor I might come out quite rosy (especially if I pick the right neighbor). But compared with the perfect goodness of Christ and how he brings perfect glory to himself and the father, I ALWAYS fall short. Being cognizant of my total depravity, no matter what graces God has give me, is a key to humility and sanctification. When I understand just how terrible I am, it is much easier to give grace to the oddities, peculiarities and shortcomings of the people around us.
Here, here. Well said.