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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

defend

In Exodus 21:12-32, we have more laws concerning slaves, and, more generally, laws given to authorities in regards to those called to submit under them.

In verses 12-14 and 18-28 we find the Lord elaborating on the sixth commandment that he had just given: You shall not murder.  It is not enough that we might not kill others, but the manner in which death or injury occurs – if it is by our hands – is also a matter of great consideration.  We know this is true even in our court system today.  Trials are set to determine how, why, and in what manner injury or death occurred and punishment is then aptly dealt to the offender.

In verses 12-14 and 20-21 we have a distinction made between getting into a fight and causing death vs. premeditated murder.  Because the first action is considered accidental, that offender was to be given a place of refuge – exile, but refuge.  Because the second action is purposeful and premeditated, that offender was to be executed.  If, however, there is a fight and a man injures another without causing his death, the offender is obligated to take care of the man he injured until he is well by paying all his lost wages.  If the injured party is a slave, in the first case the master is not to be avenged because the loss of his slave is financial punishment enough for the master who injured him.  If, in the second case it was a slave, the master shall be avenged for the murder of his slave.

Verses 26-27 instruct that if a slave loses an eye or a tooth, he shall go free.  God cares about those under authority and he makes provision for them in their distress.

Verses 15-17 make clear that anyone who abused or cursed his own parents was to be put to death.  Death!  God is extremely serious about the respectfulness and obedience  – or lack thereof – of children.  We parents ought to spend time considering this portion of the law as it pertains to us and to the fifth commandment.  Our children’s lives depend greatly upon our instruction and discipline to them as children.

In verse 16, God forbids kidnapping or person stealing of any sort.  Both the kidnapper and the one who buys or receives the stolen person was to be put to death.

Verses 22-25 give instruction on the murder and injury of unborn babies.  Even if the death is accidental, the penalty for killing an unborn child was death.  Or, whatever injury that unborn child sustained was to be done to the offender.  God is serious about injury and death caused to unborn babies and he always has been!  This should make us think very carefully about how precious and special unborn lives are in the eyes of God.  He punishes anyone who would injure unborn children – even accidentally – and whatever a person does to that baby ought to be done to the offender.

This is a law we still see practiced in our day.  Have you ever wondered why it is considered murder to kill an unborn child when a pregnant woman is attacked or injured, but it is considered a choice when she injures or kills that baby herself?  God makes no distinction.  Those who injure and murder unborn babies will be held accountable either in this life or the next.

Finally, in verses 28-32 God gave laws concerning attacks by animals over which men had ownership.  As it is today, the owner is responsible for their own animal and if it attacks a person, that owner will be held responsible.  The first time your animal kills, the animal is to be put to death.  If you fail to put your animal to death and it kills a second time, you and the animal are to be put to death or pay a heavy ransom for your life.

In these details of his overarching law, God imparted wisdom to the very real issues men were sure to face.  By these laws, we are able to recognize the character to f our God, both his justice and his mercy.  God is not partial to the master over the slave.  He is not partial to the man over the unborn baby.  He is not partial to the animal over the human.  God is not partial, period.  God is just in every situation where human beings of any social status, age, or condition are injured or killed.  He is always merciful to the one who is injured and calls always their abuses to account and make restitution.  We would all do well to consider these things.  For in so doing, we learn Our God’s heart, his concern, his compassion, and his wrath when human beings are injured – whether purposefully or accidentally.

 

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Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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I’ve been thinking on Paul’s final imperatives to the Colossian church for several weeks now.  I probably need to think on them for at least several more weeks considering the leanness of my prayers and the largeness of my mouth on most days.  Why does it seem so easy to talk about everything and so hard to pray about everything? Oh, right, I’m a sinner.  I bet the Colossians had the same issue.

As Paul began in chapter 1 thanking God and praying for these particular people, he completes his instructions to them by asking them to do as much for him.  Paul leads by example teaching that we must never ask our leaders to do for us that which we are not also willing to do for them.

Not only are we called to pray diligently, thankfully, and continually, but we must make it a priority to pray especially for those who teach and lead us in the church.

Paul’s main concern in his prayer requests is that of the gospel message.  Paul is not so much concerned with himself and his own needs – which were doubtless very great – as he is that he would be given opportunities to share the truth and share it clearly and effectively.

For a man in prison for nothing more than being faithful to God, we should consider his requests, or perhaps, his lack thereof.

Paul could have asked people to pray for his release, his ease, his health or his freedom and been entirely justified.  But, no.  Paul asks only that Christians would pray for God to use him and give him open doors for the spread of the gospel.

What men pray for often proves what is foremost in their hearts.

Paul concludes his formal instructions with an exhortation to be wise towards those outside the church.  His commands are to use our time wisely and to take care to speak with grace on every occasion.  The former cannot be done apart from the latter.

The truth is that it does not matter how much time we spend defending the truth or how well-versed we are in apologetics if our communication of that truth is unkind or unnecessarily harsh.  With the world accusing before we ever open our mouths, we can rest assured that if our speech is not pristine, any attempt to share the truth will be in vain.  It makes no difference how unkind and unbecoming the world is when it speaks to us.  Those ones do not have Christ.  That type of communication is their way.  We, however, have a different Way.  The Way we follow teaches us to speak to all people in a spirit of grace and truth; love and truth; kindness and truth.  We can speak all the truth in the world, but if it is void of grace, love, and kindness, Paul rightly implies that we will not know how to answer anyone properly and will surely be wasting both our breath and our most precious commodity, time.

 Little wonder why he stresses the importance of wisdom.  Christians never look more foolish than when we misspeak truth in brash, condescending, self-righteous cloak.

Notice that Paul speaks on the importance of prayer first, and the importance of speech, second.  More often than not, we cannot rightly speak to others until we have first spoken to God on their behalf.

I speak to myself when I say, pray.  Pray constantly.  Pray for your pastor.  Pray for the spread of the gospel.  Then get out of the way of the harvest by always being wise, gracious, and kind with its truth in your speech.

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Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. ~1 Samuel 17:28-30

Little baby brother is showing big tough front-line brother up.  Big tough front-line brother is mad.  He is mad because he is jealous, prideful, and insecure about his own failure to do that which baby brother has the courage to do.

Why did you come here small boy?  Just who do you think you are?  I’ll tell you what I think: you are nothing.  You probably left the one itty-bitty responsibility you had unattended.  I know you.  I know what is in your black heart.  You are bored.  You are lazy.  You are just looking for some action in your miserable, purposeless life.  You have no business here on my turf.  You are worthless; better yet, you are evil.  Go back where you came from, inferior.

Eliab, in his unrighteous anger, used every angle he could find to discredit David.  He sought wholeheartedly to deny him the honor due him for his courage and hunger for righteousness.

Nevertheless, David was obedient.  He was zealous for the Lord.  He was courageous, fearless, and wise even despite the towering foe he knew he was about to face and the pain of his brother’s injurious accusations.

Eliab would not hear of it.  He made sure his false accusations and unfounded charges were loud and clear.  He tells David he is presumptuous as he himself stands presuming upon his innocent brother.

David is not fazed.  David answers softly and turns around.  He continues about his Father’s business.  Consider, though, that there are quite a lot of things David could have said or done to defend himself.

He could have argued.  He could have cried.  He could have owned it.  He could have gone back home.  He could have clocked his brother a good one.  He could have reciprocated his brother’s false accusations.  Doubtless, there are countless ways David could have returned evil for evil.  None of them,however, would result in giving glory to God.

The bottom line is, David had bigger fish to fry and he knew it.  He’s got no time for this kind of infantile tomfoolery.  David was interested in only one thing – the Lord’s will.  He knew it was not his reputation that was ultimately at stake here; it was the Lord’s!  How important it was for him to overlook the insults being hurled at him and turn away from that mess.  Therefore, he was wise.  He was patient.  He was forgiving.  Such things are apparent by the way he held his peace (save a question or two about the validity of the charges) and, in doing so, kept his peace.

Likewise, Matthew Henry writes, “Those that undertake great and public services must not think it strange if they be discountenanced and opposed by those from whom they had reason to expect support and assistance; but must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of their enemies’ threats, but of their friends’ slights and suspicions.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JYGhQWgqq4

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After Elihu introduces himself and makes known his concern and love for Job, he begins a defense which represents God and his justice.

“Hear my words, you wise men,
    and give ear to me, you who know;…

For Job has said, ‘I am in the right,
    and God has taken away my right;
6 in spite of my right I am counted a liar;
    my wound is incurable, though I am without transgression.’ ~Job 34:2, 5-6

Elihu again proves respectful.

 Firstly, before he even begins, he counts his listeners – those older men with whom he clearly disagrees on this matter – wise men.  He does not discount their understanding or insult their intelligence.  And it’s not patronizing.  This young guy knows that his elders may indeed be in the wrong here, but he recognizes that they deserve honor and respect for all the experience, know-how, and qualifications they bring to the table.

Secondly, he again quotes Job.  He does not put words in Job’s mouth or assume any unseen motives.  Elihu proves wise by focusing only on the facts as stated by Job himself.

He goes on to make his case, not in an effort to make Job look bad or satisfy himself with how right he is, but to restore Job’s spiritual thinking and reconcile him to the God they both loved.

His method?  Magnify God’s justice.  Assure men of God’s goodness.  Remind Job of the sure judgement of all.  Confront specific sins.  Urge repentance.

Job had spoken foolishly while bearing an exceptionally heavy load of grief.  Elihu knows the danger and temptation Job faces if he continues in self-pity.  He knows what will become of Job if he becomes self-righteous.  

Shall one who hates justice govern? Will you condemn him who is righteous and mighty  ~Job 34:17

Is God wrong, Job?  Or are you?

 Elihu shows Job what was wrong with what he’d said.  It’s not that God isn’t just, it’s that humans cannot understand his justice.

Men of understanding will say to me,
    and the wise man who hears me will say:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge;
    his words are without insight.’
36 Would that Job were tried to the end,
    because he answers like wicked men.
37 For he adds rebellion to his sin;
    he claps his hands among us
    and multiplies his words against God.” ~Job 34:34-37

Unbelieving people are going to think you are more foolish than they!  By disrespecting God you are disrespecting yourself!  You sound like someone you are not, Job.  Submit to the wisdom of God’s providence and trust him in your time of suffering.  

Elihu shows Job how damaging to his good reputation and witness his wrong words and thoughts were.  

Easy for Elihu to say, right?  I know.  So how did he keep from being taken for a know-it-all-I-have-all-the-answers jerk to a guy who didn’t need to hear it from some young punk who couldn’t begin to understand the difficulty of his listener’s circumstances?

He entered humbly.  He made sure Job knew beyond the shadow of a doubt beforehand that he was a friend; an advocate who was certainly on his side.  He exhibited patience and waited for the proper time and opportunity to speak.  He avoided hearsay and presumption and dealt only with facts directly stated by Job.  He was respectful even though he was righteously angry and in disagreement with Job.  He focuses on the truth of God rather than his own opinions or preferences.  He wasn’t wishy-washy or cowardly with his exhortations.  

If anyone was wise, it was Elihu.  I have much to learn from him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQQMJ2u6fGE

 

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Job has finished making his case.  His counselors have no further reply.  The reason they give for their silence is Job’s self-righteousness.  Unfortunately, they failed to see that he was righteous before God and not just in his own eyes.  Rather than owning their misjudgement and error concerning him and his situation, they self-preserved in silence to make themselves appear right when – even when they had no suitable arguments left.  Such is the method of many who value pride and ego over truth and love.

Fortunately, in Job chapter 32, a young moderator, Elihu, shows up with greater wisdom and impartiality than both Job or his counselors.

Elihu begins by offering the reason for his apparent lack of presence up until this point.  This has been quite a heated discourse, and long.  Where has this guy been the whole time?

 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he. 5 And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.

6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said:

I am young in years,
    and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
    to declare my opinion to you. ~Job 32:4-6

Elihu was young.  He was inexperienced.  He had respect.  He knew the danger of speaking in haste or out of turn.  He understood authority and submission.  Elihu was patient as well as wise.  But, now that his elders have proven fools, he can no longer hold his peace.

Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
    let me also declare my opinion.’

11 “Behold, I waited for your words,
    I listened for your wise sayings,
    while you searched out what to say.
12 I gave you my attention,
    and, behold, there was none among you who refuted Job
    or who answered his words…For I am full of words;
    the spirit within me constrains me.
19 Behold, my belly is like wine that has no vent;
    like new wineskins ready to burst.
20 I must speak, that I may find relief;
    I must open my lips and answer.
21 I will not show partiality to any man
    or use flattery toward any person.
22 For I do not know how to flatter,
    else my Maker would soon take me away. ~Job 32:10-12, 18-22

Elihu did not just bust in as the credits were rolling and blast Job with his two cents.  No.  He had been listening intently all along.  He had been watching and waiting for a proper opportunity.  He was not quiet for lack of knowledge.  He had much to say on the matter.  Elihu was trusting God’s timing more than he was trusting his take on the situation.  

Now, Elihu must speak.  His elders have retired.  His passion is burning.  His God’s glory as well as his friend’s well-being is at stake.  Elihu enters the scene righteously angry. (Job 32:2-3, 5)

Elihu honored Job not only by owning him the good man that he was, but also by exhorting the wrongness of his fault.  He was angry at Job for misrepresenting God’s righteousness for the sake of his own.  He was angry at Job’s friends for their lack of love and their misrepresentation of Job’s reputation for the sake of their own prideful need to be right.  Despite seeing that they could disprove neither Job’s good example nor his good argument, they yet held onto their own to save face.  They would not concede though they had no valid charge and no solid ground.  They would not yield though they had no reply.  “They could not make good the premises and yet they held fast the conclusion.” (Matthew Henry)

The unfair injustice of it all was like a fury in the heart of Elihu.  Only after much patient listening, the young man speaks.  For five chapters he leads on.  He makes way for God to enter.  This is how young men and women ought to approach hopeless, difficult, infuriating situations.  

Lead on, church.  Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRkIQ1Djlbs

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“…she came to test him with hard questions…she told him all that was on her mind.  And Solomon answered all her questions.  There was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her.” ~1 Kings 10:1:3

Here, we have an account of a woman (the Queen of Sheba) coming to a man (Solomon) out of curiosity of his kingdom, his wisdom, and his answers.

She wasn’t just any woman, though.  And he wasn’t just any man.  This woman had influence, wealth, and wisdom of her own before she ever met Solomon.  And Solomon had more wisdom and wealth than any man who had ever lived.

The queen begins with questions.  Hard questions.  She pours out her heart.  She is honest, direct, and candid.  This lady lays her cards out on the table and is forthright about the intentions of her visit from the get-go.  She ain’t there to primp at the sickest beauty parlor or get some good cool pics for her scrapbook.  She didn’t exactly fit the women should be seen and not heard mold.  I guess she missed that day when God was passing out personalities.  Yeah.  She simply has to know if this guy is the real deal.  She wants to see if his kingdom is all that people are saying it is.  She came a long way with a lot of baggage.  Clearly, this woman was remarkably serious about her inquiries.  Much more serious, I might add, than many men of her day as well as this one. (Matthew 12:42)

Solomon, in all his fame, wealth, and, doubtless, important business, attends her.  He doesn’t send his subjects to entertain her.  He doesn’t give her a coupon for the interactive museum.  He doesn’t discount her because she’s not a man.  He doesn’t put her off citing inconvenience, consider her a threat to his own ego, a bother to his well-planned schedule, or a potential addition to his ever-growing harem.  He didn’t ignore her hoping she would just go back to wherever she came from.  No.  Solomon attends her, and, not only does he attend her, he attends her respectfully.  He gives her honor by answering all of her questions thoroughly – granted some may likely have been trite or even frivolous.  He takes time for her, he explains all she desires to know, and he does so cordially.  The king with the greatest wisdom this world has ever known welcomes a wondering, doubtful woman, and he does so authentically.

Afterward, that woman was amazed.  She was speechless.  His willingness to listen to her, his response, and his very house were all equally breathtaking.

“Then she gave…”

She gave.  She gave more than anyone had ever given before (1 Kings 10:10).  Without coercion, without manipulation, without an invoice or a guilt trip, she gave freely of all she had out of a thankful heart that had been filled with wonder.  And, even though she gave generously, Solomon continued to out-give her.

Why?

Because that’s how a wise man comes out to meet a wise woman.  That’s how wise people interact.  That’s how a good leader comes out to meet earnest followers.  That’s how a great king comes out to meet those who seek to know him.  That’s how Jesus Christ comes out to meet his church.

When work is wearying, questions compound, and brothers burden, let us reason to continue in service by remembering that we cannot out-give God.  Because when the self-proclaimed kings and queens of this world travel far and wide seeking wisdom and truth and land on the church’s doorstep, anything less than welcome, respect, and straightforward, truthful answers falls under foolishness on our part.  We cannot afford to be careless or cavalier with the great trust we have been given.

So make room for foreigners to the gospel.  Make room for inquirers.  Make room for card-carrying, lifetime membership-holding citizens.  Take time to hear them.  Be humble, respectful, willing, and ready to give an answer for your hope.  Surely, a sovereign God is a God who orchestrates the details of those who make pilgrimage into our lives.  We must remember that Jesus Christ himself was, too, a pilgrim from a far country at one time, as are we.  We must learn to welcome pilgrims.  Solomon’s example assures us, this is wisdom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZsSRaaHKGA

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