Ryle: True faith under much rubbish

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. He said to her, “What do you want?”  

She said to him, “Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom.”  —Matthew 20

J.C. Ryle encourages us to deal gently with ignorant believers:

There are many Christians, who are very like this woman and her sons. They see in part, and know in part, the things of God. They have faith enough to follow Christ. They have knowledge enough to hate sin, and come out from the world. And yet there are many truths of Christianity, of which they are deplorably ignorant. They talk ignorantly, they act ignorantly, and commit many sad mistakes. Their acquaintance with the Bible is very scanty. Their insight into their own hearts is very small. But we must learn from these verses to deal gently with such people, because the Lord has received them. We must not set them down as graceless and godless, because of their ignorance. We must remember that true faith may lie at the bottom of their hearts, though there is much rubbish at the top. We must reflect that the sons of Zebedee, whose knowledge was at one time so imperfect, became at a later period pillars of the Church of Christ. Just so a believer may begin his course in much darkness, and yet prove finally a man mighty in the Scriptures, and a worthy follower of James and John.