December 4, 2007

Grace abounds

Have you ever argued with someone only to find that you were speaking different languages? No matter how hard you tried to stay on point, your opponent seemed to be slightly off-topic. You would try and try again, but each time you tried to bring them back to the point, it was as if you were simply swatting in the air and not matching blows. It can be frustrating and at some point you just give up, realizing that you will never connect, you will never meet eye-to-eye, you will never be able to see their side of things (or vice versa).

This very thing has happened to me several times recently and it has made me stop and think a little more deeply about it. It has also made me stop and consider my words BEFORE I sit down to write a post or respond with a comment. The other day I was reading through the book of Proverbs (as I do every day) and came across this passage:
"THE PROVERBS (truths obscurely expressed, maxims, and parables) of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2That people may know skillful and godly Wisdom and instruction, discern and comprehend the words of understanding and insight,Receive instruction in wise dealing and the discipline of wise thoughtfulness, righteousness, justice, and integrity, That prudence may be given to the simple, and knowledge, discretion, and discernment to the youth--The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly]--That people may understand a proverb and a figure of speech or an enigma with its interpretation, and the words of the wise and their dark sayings or riddles.The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline." Proverbs 1:1-8

If you read the first chapter of this book, you will immediately get an idea of why Solomon believed so strongly in the virtue and power of Wisdom. This book is full of his encouragement to get wisdom, to get understanding, to get discernment. Solomon longed for all his subjects to be wise in every area of their lives and knew that the only true form of wisdom is of the Lord. Throughout all 31 chapters, Solomon never ceases to extol the virtue of Wisdom and he made it very clear that it was available to all who sought after it. It wasn't reserved for the King only, but it was available to the most common of men. It was and still is available to all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ -- we can be wise, we can discern, and we can be empowered to give and receive skillful and godly Wisdom.

As I read this passage, I began to mediate on the last line where Solomon writes: but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline. I realized then that whenever we discuss or debate any issue or topic, we must first understand to whom we are engaging in conversation. Are we speaking with wise men and women or are we speaking with the fool who despises skillful and godly Wisdom? It is vitally important to understand to whom we are speaking because we end up wasting a great deal of time and energy trying to share wisdom with a person who has no desire or need of it. Now, I am not saying that I am all-wise or all-knowing, heaven forbid it, but the point is that if you are trusting the Lord and seeking Him for His guidance, then you are counted among those who diligently seek Wisdom. You do have the power to speak wisdom and discernment and you can be wise.

Furthermore, I realized that there are two very realms in this world, the physical and the spiritual, and that unless you are battling in the same realm, you and your opponent will never meet together on any point. It is as if you are standing on the side of a very large chasm and you shout out into the voided space and then hope that your opponent who is standing on the other side will "hear" you. Your opponent does the very same thing and shouts out to you, but the words never seem to make it across the deep cavern. They get lost somewhere in the middle and the pursuit of conversation ends up tiring and frustrating for both.

As I started to think about this very point, something became very clear to me. As a child of grace, I am uniquely positioned in BOTH the spiritual and physical realm. While I live in the physical presence, the here and now, I am able to experience the spiritual because I am a blood-bought born again believer in Jesus Christ. The closer I draw nigh to Him, the more and more I experience of the spiritual and the more I come to enjoy it and long for it. Some days I wake up and have the deepest longing to be with Him, to be removed from my physical body and to fully engulfed in His presence. Other days, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience this life and to enjoy the physical relationships God has given to me: my family, my friends, my church, my community. I am struck by the beauty of God's creation and I cry out to Him and thank Him for the grace to live today.

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