Judging an idea on its abuse

There are a lot of good ideas out there. But a lot of these good ideas are told to us by flawed people or by flawed organizations.

Let me tell you what I mean and then what it means for you.

Some people discount your ideas simply because you’ve been inconsistent with how you live out your values (or don’t live out your values).

Some people discount ideas within Christianity because some Christians aren’t as loving as they should be.

Some people discount ideas from the government because that same government (or political party) didn’t follow through on their commitment.

That can be really frustrating. I’m with you on that one.

But according to an ancient leader in the church called Augustine, “We are never to judge a philosophy by its abuse.”

In other words, just because some people aren’t able to live up to a certain idea or standard, that doesn’t mean that idea or standard is wrong.

For example, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), and to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31). I’ll forever be working on that. But just because I sometimes miss the mark, that doesn’t mean Jesus is wrong.

So what does this mean for you?

It means that you and I need to work at figuring out the truth of things, instead of just discounting an idea because it’s been abused, or because it’s being promoted by someone we don’t like, or by someone who is flawed.

Instead, let’s judge it by whether it is consistent with the character of God, and whether it will help us be a blessing to the people around us.

As Augustine said, “We are never to judge a philosophy by its abuse.”

By Matthew Ruttan

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