Circumstantial Evidence (Proverbs 19:3)

After two consecutive months of water bills that were nearly double the baseline, I knew there was probably a leak. After consulting with our gardener, he searched for a leak in our outdoor sprinklers, however, he was unable to find one but agreed to reduce the time of watering since he had slightly increased it a month ago because of the heat of the summer months. Yet, the next month’s bill was still high and we were stymied to discover the source. The answer unexpectedly came one evening when we stepped into the guest bedroom. The carpet was soaked and the unmistakable pungent odor of mildew filled the room. By the next day, the plumber had identified a leak in one of the pipes, hidden by the drywall. The repair was extensive but thankfully, we had finally identified the source of our leak. 

The circumstantial evidence pointed to one source while the real leak went unchecked, leading to even more damage. Isn’t my spiritual life like this? I blame one behavior based upon perceived circumstances while I ignore the true culprit. Case in point. 

Early in my academic career, teaching my dermatology residents, I began to insert dermatopathology cases that were not directly related to their assigned lessons but were intended to be more of a humorous diversion. They all laughed when I presented these cases and I thought I was making a difficult subject more palatable, even enjoyable. However, the chief resident never seemed to join in the revelry. His progress in dermatopathology was not at the level that I expected him to be and I concluded that he simply had a bad attitude and was not putting in the required effort to master the material. Hoping things would change, I attempted to inject more humor in our teaching sessions but noted his attitude worsened. I was so perturbed that I would sometimes pray to God to take control of this situation and help this resident. 

One day, after the teaching session, he asked me if I had time for a private discussion. I agreed and after the other residents departed, he slowly began. “Thank you for teaching us dermatopathology and I speak for all the residents.” He paused and then glared at me. “When you show us those humorous cases, it’s really distracting. It doesn’t help us to learn and frankly it just confuses us. STOP IT!”

His hostility completely caught me off guard. I was humiliated and mumbled an apology and agreed to cease showing those types of cases. Circumstantial evidence pointed to the chief resident’s poor attitude and laziness. The true fault was mine alone. My foolishness caused the problem yet I blamed the resident and complained to God. 

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.

Proverbs 19:3 (NLT)

Since that day, God has changed my heart. When I am in a difficult relationship, I first examine my own behavior, asking God to reveal any foolishness or sin that is preventing me from recognizing and understanding the Truth. In many circumstances, I have been chagrined to learn that I need to look in the mirror for the answer. 

How desperately I need my Savior, Jesus Christ, to change my heart and conform me to His ways!

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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