Wisdom, Humility and Real Life

James 1:5 NKJV

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 4:6 – 10 NKJV

6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:     “God resists the proud,     But gives grace to the humble.”  7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. 

Naturally, in and of myself, I don’t have any wisdom at all.  I become painfully aware of this sometimes when God removes His wisdom from me.  Then I realize that if my own wisdom was dynamite I wouldn’t have enough to blow my nose.  God is the source of all true wisdom.

I used to write these posts for the local newspaper, accompanied by a meaningful photo.  After writing them weekly for two years I became proud, thinking I was writing them out of my own wisdom, out of my own power, out of myself.  I knew I was getting proud, but I couldn’t shake it.  My pride got in the way of hearing from God to write the posts.  And eventually I had to quit writing them.  And I couldn’t write another until eight years later.

There is a relationship between wisdom, love and pride.  Wisdom is the practically working out of love for God, others and ourselves in our daily lives.  Pride is the opposite of love.  Pride cuts off the ability to hear God’s wisdom because we seek glory for ourselves and so it results in a fall, or the destruction of our lives.

God knows we all have a problem with pride.  That’s why He sent Jesus to take the punishment for our pride.  God said to humble ourselves under His mighty hand and in due time He will lift us up.  He doesn’t lift us up the way this world does, that is, by making ourselves “greater” than others.  He lifts us up by making us like Himself, by making us able to be a loving servant like Him.  Humbling ourselves and loving and serving others is real glory.  And this real glory, when we humble ourselves, and love God with all that we are and others as much as ourselves, is just breaking even in God’s sight.  It is the minimum God expects from each of us.  We are no “greater” than anyone else.

And that’s the way we would want it isn’t it?  We want others to love us as much as they love themselves.  But, we don’t want them to feel “greater” than us by doing so.  It is just what is expected.

But loving others this way is impossible in our natural selves.  When we are born our spirits are dead.  But, when we confess our sins to God and believe that Jesus paid our sin debt in full (when He died and rose from the dead), God gives us the Person of His Spirit that is alive and willing and able to do all that God asks.  We then are able to choose to follow God if we want to follow Him.  And when we choose to follow Him we find out the reason He made us.  We find real life the way God intended it to be.

 1 John 5:11-13 NKJV

11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Matthew 10:39  NKJV

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Today, right now, Jesus is calling you.  And if you listen to Him, and respond to Him, you will never be the same.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I’m glad I didn’t get what I wanted

Jesus said that even in abundance our life does not consist in what we have.  I just updated my Linked In account to reflect my new job.  For my job description I put that I serve the mentally ill of which I am one.  At one time I wanted to be a CEO or president or anything that at that time I thought commanded respect.  I despised my mental illness and the stigma and “shame” that came with it.  Now I thank God for the experience of mental illness though I would not want to go back to having no meds.  I get to meet some of the neatest people through my job.  And what used to hold me back now I use to join with others in moving forward.  Jesus’ kingdom truly is upside-down when compared with how this world thinks.  If God would have granted me a healthy brain and given me my desire to “be important”, I would be lonely, frustrated, and friendless.  Instead He gave me defective brain chemistry, pain and sorrow, and a new life that values other people instead of what I think other people think of me.

What do you value?  Are you happy?  The Bible says that Jesus, took the form of a servant, and for the joy set before Him, endured the cross to pay for our sins.  What did He value?  You and me, and His Father.  He was never elected to public office, never wrote a book, and didn’t travel the world.  He did however, humble himself and obey His Father.  And He is happy.  If you want to follow in His footsteps you can.  Just confess your sins to Him.  Tell Him you’re sorry for them and that you are turning from them with His help.  Tell Him you believe He died for your sins and rose to give you new life.  And then tell someone about the forgiveness and new life God has given you.  Read the Bible and pray.  And love and obey Him.  You will experience His peace, love and joy.

There is room for you at the "top".

Someone has said that Jesus’ kingdom is an upside-down kingdom.  Our Lord and Master, our God, is also the servant of all.  Our greatness is not measured in how many people are working for us, but in the works of love we do for others.

This attitude does not come naturally.  It comes super-naturally.  Jesus said we must be “converted”.  Jesus said that He reveals His truth to “babes”.  Jesus said that if we hear His message and receive it [do it] we receive Him and God the Father who sent Him.

(My son has given me permission to share the following).  I am continually impressed with my 18 year old son and how he grasps who God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are and their ways.  When faced with a problem, many times he is the first to say, “Dad, let’s pray.  Let’s ask Jesus for help”.  My son is brilliant socially and is one of the leaders in his classroom.  He also reads and writes at a second grade level.

Though some in this world would overlook him, I admire him.  He’s like the child that Jesus held in His arms and gave as an example for His disciples to be like.

I’ve explained to my son that he is smart, frequently pointing out to him when he demonstrates that quality.  But I have also told him that he is wise, also pointing out that quality when he demonstrates it.  And, I’ve explained the difference.  My son loves God the Father and Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit.  My son reverences God and values God.  My son is teachable about God and His ways.  And so my son is wiser than some with multiple times his IQ.

Some value intellect.  Some value athleticism.  Some value popularity.  God values love.  Love for Him and love for others.  And true love for God always expresses itself as obedience to God.  Not that we are perfect.  But when we do sin we repent (turn around), ask God and anyone involved for forgiveness, learn from our mistake, and press on.

So my goal is to humble myself and be like my son, like the little child Jesus gave as an example to be like.  And the nice thing about Jesus’ upside-down kingdom is that there is always room at the top, or rather bottom.  All of us can serve others and be like Jesus.

16 He who hears you  [Jesus’ disciples] hears Me [Jesus], he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” (Luke 10:16, NKJV)

21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes.” (Luke 10:21, NKJV)

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,  3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” (Matthew 18:1-5, NKJV)

Putting God to the test?

Malachi 3 NIV

6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.
9 You are under a curse —the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit, ” says the LORD Almighty.  

12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

Until you experience the blessing God gives in response to tithing you may be reluctant to give God back His ten percent of what He gives you.  At least that’s what I think my sons are experiencing.

Several years ago I challenged my older son when he was about 12 years old, to test God and see what God would do if my son tithed. My son tithed seven dollars and we watched what God would do.  God said to test Him in this and so we did.  Within a few days I was given four free tickets to a first run major kids’ movie.  God blessed not only my son, but his brother and mom and dad.

I didn’t stick with teaching this to my son and now, ten years later,  my son is not interested in tithing.  I don’t plan on giving up on teaching him and his younger brother though.  My wife and I are going to double tithe and ask God to bless my wife and I doubly (so that we doubly don’t have enough room for it) so that my sons will see that God can be tested and also see that God comes through on His promises.  This test will be for the month of September 2013.  I will report back with developments.

What if love is our purpose?

Jesus said in the Parable of the Talents (below) that each servant was given resources in proportion to his ability to use them.  To one he gave five talents of silver (a talent of silver was worth about $600,000 in today’s money).  To another he gave two talents of silver.  And to another he gave one talent of silver.

This passage is many times interpreted as talking about being faithful in developing and using your skills to the best of your ability.  And so, the word “talent” is being used today, not as a measure of a weight of silver, but as a measure of skill.  Could it be that Jesus was talking about something much more valuable than skills?

Could He be talking about loving others as God loves us?

If the ability to love is really the theme of this parable then how could the parable be interpreted?

We could say the man who was given five talents of silver had the ability to love “many” people.  He immediately went to work interacting with others and using the means his Master gave him to love and help them.  And the Master rewarded him.

The man who was given two talents of silver had the ability to love “some” people.  He too, immediately went out and interacted with others, and using his Master’s means, he loved and helped them.  And the Master rewarded him.

The man who was entrusted with one talent of silver had the ability to love “one” person.  He did not go out and interact with another, to love and help them.  He buried the Master’s means of loving and helping others and loved and helped no one.  Because of the reference of putting the money on deposit with the bankers in the parable, I can imagine Jesus asking  the man “Why didn’t you let my “means of loving and helping” at least be used by others, if you yourself weren’t going to use it?”  And Jesus will cast him away from His presence.

When I surrendered to Jesus I read this parable.  I didn’t know if I was a one, two or five talent person.  I prayed for God to make me a five or a two, but if I was a one, I asked that He help me to use my talent and not bury it.  God has been gracious to me and helped me to love other people.  What about you?  To truly love you need Jesus in you, loving the other person through you.  To do that you need to ask Him to forgive your sins, and surrender your life to His leadership, and ask to receive His Spirit so that you can do good.

You will start a journey with Him that He has designed just for you.

The Parable of the Talents

[Jesus said,]  4 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 25:14–30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.