Daily D – John 1:47-48
As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” JOHN 1:47-48 (NLT)
Parents are told to “Catch your kids doing something right and compliment them for it.” This works well with spouses also. Employees and students like it. Most people like being caught at their best.
Jesus caught Nathanael at his best. And precisely when was that? He was sitting alone under a fig tree. Please do not rush past that last sentence. Nathanael was alone. He was sitting under a fig tree.
Amazing things happen when we sit under trees and think deep thoughts. Ask Sir Isaac Newton. Long before he was Sir, he was a young man pondering imponderables when the overripe apple fell. Consider Thoreau at Walden Pond. He took long walks alone with his thoughts. Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism talks about the value of daily walks in nature. Thinking deep thoughts alone in natural settings straightens the tangled thought pathways of our minds.
Jesus and Nate never disclose what Nate was thinking under that fig tree. Jesus knew. Nate knew. Jesus called Nate “a man of complete integrity.” He caught Nate thinking the right thoughts, the kinds of thoughts which turn into right actions, the kinds of actions which build better lives, better families, better workplaces, better communities, indeed, a better world.
For the last month or so, I have been reading Teresa of Avila’s classic, The Interior Castle. This is not the kind of book one rushes through. Long story short, this has led to consciously inviting Jesus into every thought and every moment. The first day of this experiment was wonderfully rewarding. The next day, well, let’s just say I had an uncomfortable moment or two.
Let us rest beneath the fruit tree of our choice for a moment. We have walked in silence together for a bit, lost in our thoughts. The easy preacher question here is, “Would Jesus call you a person of complete integrity because of your private thoughts?” That is worth the ponder now and anon.
Let’s say, however, Jesus was being a good big brother and caught us setting our minds on something noble and good in the style of Phil. 4:8. What thoughts would he compliment? What thoughts are there which are building blocks toward living a life of true integrity?
What if you and I focused more on those kinds of things rather than all the offenses and irritations of life? How would our lives differ?
Since beginning my experiment with Teresa of Avila, several thought pathways have been completely interrupted. I can no longer comfortably return to those well-worn rationalizations and justifications of the past. Reading, praying, and pondering create such an effect, don’t they?
One more question: What will Jesus catch you doing today that will bring a genuine compliment? Let’s think about that.
I will think thoughts worthy of affirmation and praise.
Our Father, fill my mind with your thoughts. I want to love you and honor you with all my mind. I want you to be able to catch me thinking the kinds of thoughts which turn into actions that edify and encourage, strengthen and serve. Amen.
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6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 40:6–14.
Job 29:21-25 21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.