Friday, June 1, 2012

Wisdom (Part I)

By Hayley Boud

“Who is wise and understanding among you?
Let him show it by his good life,
By deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom…
…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”
James 3:13, 17

“Let him show”
The verse says that we should show our wisdom by the actions we do. We are not supposed to tell people how wise we are or tell people how great we are, or tell people our actions, or tell the number of people I’ve witnessed to today or the number of times I’ve read the bible or how often I pray. We just do the good actions and people will discover for themselves. In fact, most people will find you are proud when you tell them all about your actions or how great you are, but the verse says to do the deeds in “humility”.

That means we do the deeds without expecting recognition or thanks. We just do it for God and for His glory. We don’t expect praise and we can even do it in secret so no one knows it’s me. So it’s our humble actions that show whether we are wise or not. If we are doing good deeds but we are broadcasting them – people won’t consider us wise – just proud. If we speak a lot and try to prove to people we are wise, no one will actually think we are wise – just foolish.

So the way to be wise is to do good deeds n humility. For example, pray for people in quiet (don’t have put on a show), clean the church toilets before anyone arrives, visit the sick, invite people for dinner or lunch, simple good deeds done in secret without broadcasting it and without taking the glory. For example, if you read the bible daily, people will discover it because naturally your conversation and your actions will prove that you read the bible daily. You don’t have to tell people, “I read the bible every day”. They will see by your wise decisions, by your transformed life, by the words you choose in everyday situations that you read the bible and they will discover you are wise without you having to tell them.

“Good life”
It’s not just the deeds we do that need to be good but our whole life: our character, our personality. Eg. a gentle and quiet spirit. A good life is someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and this is proven by the good fruits they possess, “love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, goodness, gentleness and kindness”. If you believe you are wise, then ask yourself, “am I full of love? Do I love according to 1 Cor 13:4? Do I ever get jealous or do I ever envy others?” If so, then I’m not wise because I don’t possess the fruit of love and therefore I do not prove my wisdom through my good life. Am I patient or do I lose my patience with certain people? When I lose my patience, I prove that I am not wise because my life is not good. Am I kind and gentle or do I sometimes talk rudely? Do I have self-control or do I sometimes offend people with my way of talking? Do I always have joy or do I sometimes lose my joy and become angry or disappointed or discouraged? Do my actions reflect wisdom or foolishness? Does my life reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit?

What are our deeds or works? The bible says that faith without works is dead/useless (James 2:20,26). What deeds or works did I do today? Would people consider me wise because of my deeds? For example, there are some very talented musicians at Eastside. If the keyboardist wants to play the keyboard for God, they would practise every day. That would be considered wise. The deeds or work of practising the keyboard pays off when s/he plays in front of the church and they know the correct chords to play, when to play them, the timing etc. This proves wisdom.

For example, if I’m the leader on Wednesday, I know that if I spend the time reading the Bible, meditating and reflecting on a particular verse and working out exactly what I will say, my works will prove how wise I am because I will lead with confidence and I’ll have something to say that has depth and meaning.

This is the same with studying. I remember one guy at Bible College didn’t study for the entire year and when it came time for his exams he though he could just fast and pray. This shows lack of wisdom. We have to work and by working, this will prove our wisdom. That man was completely foolish and it was proven how foolish it was when he failed.

Faith without works is goes no where.  If my left leg represents faith and my right leg represents works, then if my left leg (faith) makes a step forward and afterwards my right leg (works) makes a step forward...I will move ahead.  But if faith moves one step but the other leg (works) doesn't move and is stuck, then faith can't move either.  I'm stuck until I do some work.  I can't hop on one leg, that will only make me tired and I can't crawl without legs because the Bibles says we have to run the race and you need both legs (faith and works) to run.  We also can't work without faith...trying to hop around on one leg (works) will make you exhausted and you will give up before the race is finished.

The Greek word for deeds is Ergon which means work or performance. Many Christians say that we Christians shouldn’t be performance based but according to this, wisdom is performance based. We have to work in order to be wise. If we want to achieve anything in life, we have to work and by working we will prove our wisdom because no one can ever get anything in life without working. For example, if I want to learn French, I have to put aside a few minutes a day and make a schedule and make an effort. I have to accept to make my brain to work hard and accept to sacrifice time and accept to be humbled along the way as I make mistakes. The way to wisdom is to accept to work hard, accept to sacrifice our time and accept to be humbled as we make mistakes. This is the road to wisdom. It is impossible to be wise without working.

“Wisdom that comes from heaven”
This is God’s wisdom and it is different to the wisdom of this world. Sometimes things make sense to people while they are not wise for God and sometimes God’s wisdom seems foolish to the world. For example, I read a story where a man wanted to build a radio station for a remote area in South America so the message of Christ could be broadcast to those who wouldn’t normally hear it. He prayed and God told him to put the antenna up this particular mountain but people around him said that it would never work, that it was the worst possible place to put it. It would cost hundreds of dollars and if he was wrong, he’d be humiliated but he accepted that God knew better and he built the antenna where God told him. Of course it worked and every person was amazed. Wisdom that comes from heaven is the kind of wisdom that we are after.

“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power”. I Cor 2:1-5

When we speak we don’t have to find the most eloquent words or the most spiritual words in order to look wise. We can use simple words and let the good deeds demonstrate to them the power of God. It’s our “good life” that will convince people, not our clever arguments. We don’t have to try and prove we are wise by using big words or spiritual words, we just have to show people we are wise by our good life. By the way we respond to them, by our kindness, our patience, our joy, our love, our goodness, our generosity, our peacefulness. These are the things that speak to people and prove we are wise. This is for both Christian and non-Christian. When we prepare a message for others, we don’t have to try and find the most spiritual and difficult message…. Just take a simple verse and share it. When we are praying for others we don’t have to use big words or sound spiritual, just talk to God in a normal way with simple words but as Paul did, with “fear and trembling”.

So what is the wisdom that comes from heaven? It is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”. This is the wisdom that comes from heaven. We will discuss this in depth next time I’m the exhorter, we will think more deeply about how to have wisdom that comes from heaven. We will discuss what it means to have wisdom that is first of all pure, what it means to have wisdom that is peace-loving etc.

For tonight, let’s remember that we don’t have to prove we are wise to anyone with our words but by our actions and our good life people will discover on their own that we are wise. Wisdom comes by working hard and we don’t have to be afraid of being performance based. It’s not bad to work hard for God. We must have faith and works together or we will never move forward and if we are always in the same spot, we will prove to the world we do not have wisdom. We are looking for the wisdom that comes from heaven, not man’s wisdom – so let’s not try to find it in the things of the world. Let’s look for God’s wisdom where we know we can find it (the bible, bible studies, in other Christians, in God Himself, at church, in preachings). Let’s not try to prove to others we are wise by using big words but let’s be simple like Paul was and let our message be our actions and our good life.