To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. Titus 1:15
The tricky thing about predicting, someone once said, is that it often involves the future! This is what makes prophesying very difficult. Australians, perhaps more than most people, are very well accustomed to people failing to predict the future. In 1976 John Nash publicly prophesied that Adelaide would be destroyed by a tidal tsunami at 10:30AM on January 19th because the Don Dunstan Labor Government had decriminalised homosexuality and God’s wrath was about to be unleashed. Premier Dunstan defiantly went down to the Glenelg pier and awaited the impending yet fanciful tidal wave.
Clairvoyant John Nash predicted that an earthquake and tidal wave would hit Adelaide in January 1976. It was all a big joke to Chris Overall of Rosslyn Park, who paraded in Glenelg wearing hard hat and carrying a sign that read ‘surf’s up!’.
Australians well remember what the pundits had predicted about Steven Bradbury’s chances of winning gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics, or Scott Morrison’s chances of defeating the unbeatable Prime Ministerial candidate, Bill Shorten in 2019 Australian Federal Election, or even Alan Bond’s chances of wresting the prized “America’s Cup” from the undefeated USA, in 1983.
Then, having established that prophesying the future is incredibly difficult, how can I dare to claim that I know how to ensure that we can prophesy and ensure its fulfilment? Here’s how…
There was once a manager who was conducting interviews for a position in their company. The first applicant arrived for the interview and the manager asked them about their previous job. “Oh, I left there because the other staff were so self-centred and always gossiping! It was not a very enjoyable place to work at all.” The manager listened. The applicant then asked, “What are the staff like here?” The manager replied, “You’d find them exactly the same here.” Later in the day the manager interviewed the next applicant and the manager asked them about their previous job. “Oh, I loved working there. I got on so well with all my colleagues. We worked really well together and were more like family than work colleagues. They were all so caring and committed to each other, the company and our customers—it was great!” The manager listened. The applicant then asked, “What are the staff like here?” The manager replied, “You’d find them exactly the same here.”
This story highlights one of the most powerful principles of self-fulfilling prophecy—our attitude toward others. Some people have a very fearful, negative, opinion about others and even before they’ve taken the time to get to know someone they’ve already made certain ‘prophecies’ about them, which their attitude ensures will be right. “I bet the people in this church won’t be friendly toward me either!” And sure enough, they find what they ‘prophesied’ to be true. Another person says, “I made so many great friends in my last church, I bet God is going to connect me with a whole set great friends in this church as well!” And sure enough, they find what they ‘prophesied’ to be true.
Our attitudes can become the main ingredient in how we ‘self-fulfil’ our prophecies.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
It takes humility to forgive and to choose not to harbour hurt and it is the humble person whom God favours with grace and blessing (James 4:8, 10). Such a person has discovered the joy of how humility brings sweetness to a person’s soul which in turn affects how they see others. This too leads to the powerful principle of how our ‘prophecies’ can be fulfilled. When it comes to the core teaching of the New Testament, it is most interesting how incredibly simple and short that list is. The expression “above all”, as it relates to Christian conduct, only occurs three times in the New Testament and might be boiled down to two rules: (i) tell the truth to each other (James 5:12), and (ii) love each other richly (Col. 3:14; 1Peter 4:8).
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. First Peter 4:8
And it’s in these two things that we discover our greatest potential to fulfil our own prophecies about our situations and those we come in contact with. People are not your problem and may well be God’s answers to your prayers to come to know Him more deeply and intimately. May God help us all to see and prophesy that the glass really is half full!