~ Did Jesus Speak in Generalities or Specifics? ~
This post was prompted after reading a post on another Christian website (a site which I generally respect and appreciate) which made two interesting statements: (1) Christians love to speak in generalities. (2) Did you ever notice how Jesus only dealt in specifics? This post caused me to think—which is a key value of a good post.
Two of the immediate thoughts which flashed across my mind were definitions that I learned many years ago. (1) A specialist is a person who learns more and more about less and less until he eventually knows absolutely everything about nothing. (2) A generalist is a person who has interests in more and more until he eventually knows absolutely nothing about everything.
Here are my thoughts regarding Jesus and whether Christians should be a generalists or specialists. Keep in mind that a key principle is that Christians should strive to be more and more like their Savior.
Jesus Spoke In Generalities ~ For example, consider the Beatitudes which presents general truths which are not always true in every circumstance—similar to the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Actually a significant portion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), of which the beatitudes are a part (5:3-10), include generalities.
Jesus Spoke With Specifics ~ When Jesus met and talked with a Samaritan woman at the well He knew the specifics of her life (John 4:1-26). He talked with her about specifics. Another example is the time he interacted with some Pharisees about taxes. The Pharisees tried to trick Him but He knew the specifics of not only their question but their motives and He replied with such specificity as to astonish and silence them (Matthew 22:15-22).
Jesus Christ knew not only the specifics of man’s motives but the specifics of nature. In another event dealing with taxes He told Peter how he could pay his taxes with money from a fish (Matthew 17:24-27). Our Lord and Savior also has specific plans tailored to each of us as we seek to do His will on earth (for example see John 21:20-23).
Summary ~ In the examples provided we see Jesus using generalities when speaking to groups and using specifics when talking to individuals. In general we are to apply basic principles to life. However, basic principles are of no value unless we apply them to specific situations—which is similar to the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW
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