The Cause of Spiritual Stupidity

How is it that ye do not understand?

— St. Mark. 8:21

Ambition in every shape has to do with Things, with outward advantages for the satisfaction of self-worship; it is that form of pride, foul shadow of Satan, which usurps the place of aspiration. The sole ambition that is of God is the ambition to rise above oneself; all other is of the devil. Yet it is nursed and cherished in many a soul that thinks itself devout, filling it with petty cares and disappointments that swarm like bats and shut out the glory of God. The love of the praise of men, the desire of fame, the pride that takes offence, the puffing-up of knowledge, these and every other form of self-worship—we must get rid of them all. We must be free. The man whom another enslaves may be free as God; to him who is a slave in himself, God will not enter in; he will not sup with him, for he cannot be his friend. He will sit by the humblest hearth where the daily food is prepared; he will not eat in a storage room, let the things stored be thrones and crowns. Will not, did I say? Cannot, I say. Men full of things would not once partake with God were he by them all day long. 

Commentary

by James House

‘We do not need to be better; we are well enough. Give us riches and honour, and keep us content with ourselves, that we may be satisfied with our own likeness, and thou shalt be the Messiah.’ Never, perhaps, would such be men’s spoken words, but the prevailing condition of their minds might often well take form in such speech. Whereon will they ground their complaint should God give them their hearts’ desire?”
— George MacDonald, "Hope of the Gospel"
Nothing is so ruinous to progress in which effort is needful, as satisfaction with apparent achievement; that ever sounds a halt  
— George MacDonald, "Thomas Wingfold, Curate".

How many ways in a given day do we tell ourselves we are doing well enough for God's requirements of us?  Sure, we may be continuously (and keenly) aware of the need to improve in a few or even several ways.  But at the same time we excuse and even congratulate ourselves in countless other ways in which honest reflection reveals lack.

Thankfully the Lord is merciful, and does not demand that we run faster than we are able.  He is pleased with all of our efforts, and with each effort blesses us with strength toward more.

Our Father wishes and offers the best help for us. We should neither excuse nor overly condemn ourselves in our faults.  We must seek his help in seeing clearly and acting dutifully - improving that which is most needful today.  We must always jog along the path of our childhood toward him.  Let us not forget to pray for his offered strengthening grace as we face each new day.