Ever been accused of being stupid? I usually tried to have my children avoid the use of this term because of the negative connotation it carries and the way it makes a person feel when they are described as stupid. In the most literal sense of the word, it indicates someone lacks the intelligence to do something. In terms of this new math they are teaching my grandchildren in school, I would have to say I am a little "stupid" when it comes to understanding it! I thought I learned "new math" when I came through school and I have done pretty well keeping my checkbook in order, bills paid on time, and have even managed to know what a 25% savings on an item on sale will cost me! So how come we need "newer math" than the old "new math"? I don't see the sense in it, and it is a constant "Google search" item for me whenever my daughter calls and asks me to explain it over the phone to my grandson! I have to read the instructions, then try to figure out why they do the problem that way and then maybe, just maybe I can help him out. I am quick to admit to him I must look it up - I don't want him to get the sense of me being "in the know" about this anymore than he or his mother are. As we all have experienced at times, we have moments where our actions lack any evidence of "intelligent thought", or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they lack "intelligent forethought". In those moments, we feel pretty doggone "stupid" for having responded as we did, right? The difference (and I really mean the subtle difference) between right responses or actions in our lives and the "stupid" ones are not because we are unwilling to be obedient in our lives, but rather we failed to recognize all the "nuances" of possible responses in the situation. It doesn't make us "stupid" - it makes us unprepared. I am not stupid when it comes to the "newer math", I am just unprepared!
It’s better to be poor and live right than to be a stupid liar. Willingness and stupidity don’t go well together. If you are too eager, you will miss the road. We are ruined by our own stupidity, though we blame the Lord. (Proverbs 19:1-3 CEV)
If we are honest about what stupidity really refers to we will find the very first definition of stupid describes as a mental dullness - the lack of ordinary quickness or keenness of mind. That suggests we probably do fairly well with out "quickness or keenness of mind" on most of the occasions we get to actually use it. There are just other times when we don't do so well! Let that one sink in for a moment, will you? You and I do a pretty good job most of the time living this life of obedience. There are twenty-four hours in each of our days. There are sixty minutes in each of our hours. There are also sixty seconds in each of our minutes. Now, we take one minute to respond in a way which is pretty "stupid" (lacking the normal quickness or keenness of thought we usually exhibit) and we think our entire twenty four hours has been a failure! Nope - that moment was, but not the entirety of the day. Sometimes I think we try to live the entirety of our day without giving ourselves any mercy or grace! We expect we will somehow be totally keenly aware of each word, thought, action, etc. When we slip up in one form or another, we beat ourselves up for it - calling the entire day a bust!
We are "willing" to live right - aren't we? We are "willing" to make correct choices, respond in the right manner, and even take steps in the right direction even though it is a little hard. But...one slip up and we head into a tailspin, believing the entire day was a wash and we are back again on an upward climb. Here's the truth - we had a MOMENT of stupidity! We didn't make a lifestyle change which said, "From now on I am only going to do stupid stuff"! We got a little too distracted, were overwhelmed with fatigue, or some other factor entered in and we had a moment we now regret. Regret is the enemy of our ability to let go of the past. It rages in our minds - because our minds are like steal traps - holding all those "moments" in there and recalling them at will. The thing to focus on is not the moment of failure, but the other 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 59 seconds of obedience!
If you have ever brought something BACK to God which you had confessed before, but you just cannot seem to break free of your remembrance of that "moment of stupidity", let me assure you that you don't do this alone. There are a whole lot of the rest of us who do exactly the same thing - we bring up those past failures time and time again. We are justifying our "dullness" of forethought by showing God how many "past seconds" we spent in failure. God isn't aware of those past seconds anymore. He has already covered those with the blood of Jesus - they are washed away. It is as thought he gave us back that lost second each and every time we asked for his forgiveness in the past. We just hold onto those seconds until the mount into minutes and then hours and then days of regret and remorse. We are good at flogging ourselves over and over again for our past "stupidity", aren't we? We need to stop this, though. It is contrary to all we know about God and how he deals with our moments of failure. Those seconds are actually not "lost" - God restores them so our day starts all over again as though the moment of stupidity didn't even exist!
We might lack mental keenness at times - but God helps us move past those "lost seconds". We might not always exhibit the soundness of judgment we hoped to exhibit in the moment - but God brings us back on course and helps us put the past behind us. We need to stop looking so much to the moments of failure to judge how well we are doing, but begin to focus on the moments of pretty solid walking we do in between! Just sayin!