John Newton on how to be humble when handling the treasures of Scripture:
To be enabled to form a clear, consistent, and comprehensive judgment of the truths revealed in the Scripture, is a great privilege; but they who possess it are exposed to the temptation of thinking too highly of themselves, and too meanly of others, especially of those who not only refuse to adopt their sentiments, but venture to oppose them. We see few controversial writings, however excellent in other respects, but are tinctured with this spirit of self-superiority . . .
I know nothing, as a means, more likely to correct this evil, than a serious consideration of the amazing difference between our acquired judgment, and our actual experience; or, in other words, how little influence our knowledge and judgment have upon our own conduct. . . .
[I]f we estimate our knowledge by its effects, and value it no farther than it is experimental and operative (which is the proper standard whereby to try it), we shall find it so faint and feeble as hardly to deserve the name.
I am not what I ought to be–ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be–I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be–soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
—Newton as quoted in The Christian Pioneer (1856), edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks, 84
I appreciate Newton’s quote as I’ve taken to titling my journal entries as a “changelog.” “Journal” seemed unimaginative. I liked Edwards’ Miscellanies, but those entries are broad in type and besides, the name’s taken. A changelog is “a log or record of changes made to a project, such as a website or software project, usually including such records as bug fixes, new features, etc.” I’m a project of a different kind.
You might also say, He’s still working on me.
Disclosure: My mom had my sister and I sing this song in nursing homes when we were kids. Also, that’s not my mom in the video.