Sunday, July 12, 2015

July 13, 2015

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." James 3:13-18

The word "understanding" is a key word in this portion of Scripture. James used a word here that is used exclusively in this text and it connotes a "specialist". It takes a "specialist" to receive and properly apply wisdom. How would you like to be known as someone who specializes in wisdom? Could you live with that?

How do you know when someone is a wisdom specialist? Do they have a business card? Do they get a title? If you want to pick them out of a crowd what would you look for?

That is essentially the point of this portion of Scripture. A practitioner of wisdom demonstrates a very distinct lifestyle. He has attitudes and actions that set him apart from those who do not understand true wisdom.

So, wisdom is intensely practical. It is not just subscribing to a particular set of beliefs or creeds. Wisdom is not a matter of what you know but what you show. Knowledge is important and you certainly must know the correct things. But simply having head knowledge doesn't guarantee a change of heart or behavior. The world is filled with highly educated and very knowledgeable people who live ungodly lives because knowledge tends to puff up a person with pride. Pride and wisdom are mutually exclusive.

Show me a wise person and I will show you a humble person. The wise person understands that knowledge brings power and he respects that power. Wise people understand that there is a responsibility that comes with knowledge. Humble people live under accountability to the power and the responsibility of knowledge.

The wisest man who ever lived summed up the wisdom, knowledge and understanding interface this way, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6e
Do you need to "wise up"? Are you trusting in what you know or are you living out what you believe? Has your knowledge puffed you up with pride or has it humbled you? Do you seek to use your knowledge as leverage to promote yourself at the expense of others?

The truth remains, if you really believe it your life will show it.

July 12, 2015

"(love) Is not rude....." I Corinthians 13:5

After spending the past week condemning rudeness, this post may sound like a contradiction initially but stay with me.

I would define rude behavior as anything ill-mannered or demeaning directed at another person. Rude behavior can be either intentional or careless.

Rude behavior usually arises out of being self-seeking, irritable or vindictive as indicated here in verse 5.

Most people recognize rude behavior when they see it. Especially when it is happening to them!

But here is the tricky part!

There is a day coming when the behavior we cherish and value as believers will be considered rude by most people in our culture. We can already see instances of it happening.

You may be familiar with the Christ-owned bakery out in Oregon whose owners were considered rude because they chose not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple's wedding. Beyond being considered rude, their decision was ruled illegal and they have lost their bakery business.

While it once would have been considered rude for the same-sex couple to insist this couple bake their cake instead of simply finding a baker who would, that has flipped one hundred and eighty degrees.

Saying to someone that Jesus is the only way to salvation and only those who trust in Him will be save may soon be considered a rude statement because it is so exclusive and discriminatory.

Verbalizing your belief that the Bible is absolute truth and anything contrary to it is wrong will soon be branded as an intolerant and rude statement.

Having doubts about climate change being caused by human activities and expressing those doubts will soon be considered rude and crude by many in our culture.

Love is not rude.

But as our culture grows increasingly confused over the meaning of real love it will be a challenge to avoid offending their notions of rudeness.

Make sure you are vitally connected to Christ so you can be clear on the concept!