“Be More than You Appear”

Monday is for Discussion

A Spoke in the WheelRenate Wind teaches at the Dietrich Bonhoeffer School in Weinheim, Germany. Her biography of Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: a Spoke in the Wheel, is much shorter than the modern opus Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes and I am not far enough along in the book to give an opinion on it. But there is a phrase early in the book that captured my attention.

The phrase embodied a philosophy which apparently was a part of the German society in which the Bonhoeffer’s dwelled but in particular, it was an approach to life that the Bonhoeffer family adopted as their own.

“Be more than you appear.”

The point was to be humble but significant. Live a life that is deeper than what other people see or know about. Be the kind of person that is understated rather than overstated. Be significant with out telling everyone. Let the world discover your inner strength and character. Don’t throw yourself at the world; throw yourself into the world, and the make your difference by actual achievement rather than self-promotion.

Isn’t this an echo of what the Apostle Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to in his first letter to them? (Cf. 1 Thess. 4:9-11, esp. 11)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 

Questions and Suggestions:

  1. Suggestion: This is the least aspired to virtue (“living quietly”) in the Christian life in modern Evangelicalism.
  2. How can we change this?  How will you change this in your own life?
  3. Make up your mind to “be more than you appear.”

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