WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE WISDOM IN CHRIST.
kotowaza — “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” — a Japanese proverb, quoted by Paulo Coelho, in The Alchemist. A maxim of my life has always been giving myself permission to fail, and that as long as my success rate is at least 51%, I am ahead! So my proposition today is that the apostle, Paul, explains what it means to have wisdom in Christ by teaching that we expose the darkness, we must use our time wisely, and we must be responsive to the Holy Spirit.
Let me start with an amusing anecdote from the life of an American pastor. He wrote that “when I was a young minister, a funeral director asked me to hold a graveside service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The funeral was to be at a new cemetery way out in the country and he would be the very first to be laid to rest there.
“I was not familiar with the area and got lost. Being a typical man, of course, I did not ask for directions. I finally found the cemetery about an hour late. The back hoe was there and the crew was eating their lunch. The hearse was nowhere to be seen.
“I apologised to the workers for being late. As I looked into the open grave, I saw the coffin lid already in place. I told the workers I would not keep them long, but that this was the proper thing to do. The workers, still eating their lunch, gathered around the opening.
“Young and enthusiastic, I poured out my heart and soul as I preached. The workers joined in amazingly, with, “Praise the Lord,” “Amen,” and “Glory!” I so got into the service that I preached and preached, from Genesis to The Revelation.
“When the service was over, I said a benediction and walked to my car, then overheard one of the workers say, “I never saw anything like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic systems for twenty years.”
Everyone needs wisdom for life, both young and old preachers included. Wisdom will help us keep from making mistakes in life, especially, if we receive the wisdom that is from above.
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. 14 But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 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. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 4:13–18
Wisdom from above is something given by God that produces: goodness, humility, a peace-loving nature, consideration of others, a willingness to be submissive, sincerity, impartiality, and lots and lots of good fruit. That is a pretty good list of things to do or to be! Wisdom is about how we live, not what we know — and we all know there are many educated fools in this world. Without Godly wisdom, we will make many mistakes in life.
Wilbur Chapman has written words of wisdom when he said: “The rule that governs my life is this: Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or make Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.”
I. EXPOSE THE DARKNESS
How do we expose the darkness in this world? By shedding light wherever we go! Many years ago, in the days of steam trains and lanterns with wicks inside them, there was a bad level crossing accident where several teenage boys on a jaunt were hit killed when a speeding train hit their car. At the court case that followed, the watchman was questioned: “Were you at the crossing the night of the accident?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Were you waving your lantern to warn of the danger.”
“Yes, I was,” the man told the magistrate.
After the trial had ended, the watchman was overhead talking to himself, “I’m glad they didn’t ask me about the light in the lantern, because the light had gone out.”
What use is a safety lamp if the light is not burning brightly? God sees when our light has gone out.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
How do we let our light (Jesus) shine? In several ways. We teach and preach but we also live the life. Do you try to live the best you can? And do you testify for Christ whenever you can? Do you speak up for Christ when the opportunity comes your way?
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.” Romans 13:12
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
Think about things this way – when you have thoughts about ‘why did God make a world like this for us, there is so much that is wrong …’ — realise that this is one very good reason God allowed you to be born, so that you could help make it a better place than when you arrived. All you have to do is do your part.
How do we do this? By pointing to the true light! Wise people point to Jesus as the source of life and light!
II. USE TIME WELL
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 4:15–16
So how do you spend your time? This is what we do, we literally “spend” our lives and our time on certain things. Somebody has wisely said, “You cannot kill time without injuring eternity.”
What we do here, now, affects us in eternity. We prepare for eternity here and now and we should invest our time wisely every day and perhaps, every hour of the day.
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Another translation says: “Teach us how short our lives really are, so that we may be wise.”
Time = Life, therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life. William Penn wrote: “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
TRUE FOR MANY PEOPLE. Have you ever taken an inventory of how you spend your days? Try it some time and you might be surprised at how much time you waste doing things that count for nothing. It works. Like this: “Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life, so don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.” When Michael Ramsey was Archbishop of Canterbury, as a prolific author was asked when he found time to write his books. He replied, “Look at it this way: Monday, a quarter of an hour; Tuesday, ten minutes; Wednesday rather better, half an hour; Thursday not very good, but ten minutes; Friday a bit of a lull, an hour; Saturday, half an hour.” That’s using one’s time very wisely.
There is a wonderful anecdote of John Stott, who was near the end of a final lecture at a missionary convention, when he begged the congregation: “Please don’t clap any more; you’re wasting my time; I’ve only got two minutes more.” I never have to worry about this. Wasting ten minutes a day (could be anything from day dreaming, to staying in a warm bed, to being too long on Facebook) for five days a week, amounts to more than a week’s work. Time adds up quickly, and time leaves us quickly as well.
“For he says, “In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2
Now is the day of salvation for all mankind. God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. BUT TIME WILL RUN OUT. It may have already run out for some people because they have continued to rebel against God.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
This is the time of harvest but only if we work at sowing good stuff. How can we reap if we do not sow?
“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3
When is this time? IT COULD BE AT ANY TIME!
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.” 2 Timothy 4:6
What about you? Is it time for your departure? It could be and for me too. We could leave this world at any time! This is why we need to be ready, to get ready and to use our time wisely for the Lord! A couple of sayings I came across:
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”
“Yesterday is a canceled cheque; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”
III. WE RESPOND TO THE SPIRIT
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:17–20
It is a little like struggling to start your car one day, when you really need to get go somewhere, and when you lift up the bonnet to see what is wrong, you realise that somebody has stolen the engine. Your spiritual engine is the Holy Spirit, and if you do not have him, then you are stuck. The Bible teaches us to be filled with the Spirit. Most of us are filled with something, but ids that something, God’s Holy Spirit?
“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9
“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:12–14
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body.” I Corinthians 6:19–20
It is common in our day, for people to respond to Biblical teaching by accusing preachers of not keeping abreast with the spirit of the age, with its lack of definitive truth and its politically correct stances. I prefer to keep abreast with the Spirit of God than with the spirit of this age. Keeping up with the world is not always a right thing to do. The important thing is to keep in step with God! We need to be like Enoch, a character in the OT, who “walked with God.” To walk with God means to be sensitive to His Spirit who lives within us. It means to respond to the Spirit’s leading in our lives! Rely on organisation, and get what organisation can do. Rely on education, and get what education can do. Rely on eloquence, and get what eloquence can do. RELY ON THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND GET WHAT GOD CAN DO! The way to be filled with God’s Spirit and respond to Him is to read the Holy Spirit’s Word which is scripture and to walk with the Lord in constant prayer.
Saviour, fill me with Thy Spirit As I seek and wait and pray, Bend and break me, blessed Master— Make me wholly Thine today. Lord, I bow in full surrender, Yielding all I have to Thee: Come and fill me with Thy Spirit— Sanctify Thyself in me. I would tarry in Thy presence ’Til endued with power and love: I would know the mighty fullness Of Thy Spirit from above. Will He come in all His fullness As I now obey Thy call? Yes, oh, yes, for Thou has promised, If I come confessing all.
Wisdom in Christ can mean many things, and in Ephesians 5,it means we expose the darkness, We use time wisely, and we respond to the Spirit. Abraham Lincoln apparently said, “I don’t think much of a person who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Are you growing in wisdom? Are you growing in the Lord’s wisdom? You have His book and you have prayer, and that’s how to get it.