Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

wisdom Archive

Monday

4

March 2019

Don’t take yourself too seriously

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It’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh

We often get caught up worrying about life, work, other people, what other people think of us, and ourselves, but consider how much more fulfilling life is when you can learn to not take yourself so seriously. Rather than looking in, start looking out, and learn how to let go.

Don’t take yourself too seriously; learn to let go and to laugh. Nobody is perfect; we are all human, and we are all prone to err. Taking yourself too seriously is a huge indicator of pride. The Bible says that, “when pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) There’s something so freeing about not taking yourself too seriously. It’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh and when you learn to accept that it’s not “all about you” and how you’re feeling. People around you will appreciate you all the more for it, and God will bless you for it. “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty; and before honour is humility.” (Proverbs 18:12)

When you take yourself too seriously, you’re trying to take control away from God (and we all know that’s just not possible). Pride puts forth a lot of effort into controlling circumstances, but faith puts trust in the One who controls the universe. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) As a Christian, not taking yourself too seriously doesn’t mean that you act immaturely or carelessly; it means that you’ve got faith and you’re resting in the Lord’s strength rather than your own.

Not taking yourself too seriously doesn’t mean that you don’t have confidence, quite the contrary; not taking yourself too seriously means that you’re all the more secure in who God has made you. As Christians, we have every reason to be secure in the Lord. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously because we stand firm in our faith. As it says in 2 Corinthians 9:8, in all things at all times, we have all that we need in God. He is our rock, our refuge, our shield, our strength – our security is in Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

You’ve likely read – or at least heard of – Proverbs 31, which tells of the virtuous woman. One of her virtues is that “she shall rejoice in time to come” (Proverbs 31:25). Some versions of the Bible say that, “she can laugh at the days to come.” As I said above, it’s a liberating thing when you can learn to laugh. We don’t have to take ourselves too seriously because we know who controls the future. “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.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We need not worry about tomorrow, because we know who holds tomorrow.

Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t take others too seriously, either. The most important one to take seriously is God.

Originally published as “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 15, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

12

December 2018

Esther | An Excellent Example

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"The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness." Proverbs 21:5 | Esther: An Excellent Example | Read more at hopereflected.com

Esther: An excellent example

We can learn many lessons from the life of Esther

 

The Bible is filled with many amazing examples of men and women who went before us, their testimonies, and the examples and legacies that they have left for generations to learn from and to follow. One such example is Esther, or Hadassah, the maiden who became the queen of Persia.

Esther’s story is unique in that out of all the books in the Bible, not once in the book of Esther is the Lord mentioned. Esther’s story gives reference to the origins of the feast of Purim, and also provides a unique viewpoint and record of an important part of Jewish history. Esther’s story is also an awesome testimony of a woman of influence. We can learn many lessons from the life of Esther that are still practical and relevant for women and men today.

After both her parents died, Esther was raised primarily by her uncle, Mordecai (who many speculate actually wrote the book of Esther that we read in the Bible). Esther was an orphan. Even though her background was not necessarily conducive to her becoming queen, it’s evident that she didn’t let her past didn’t define her. It’s an important reminder for each of us that our past shouldn’t dictate our present, or our future. It’s never too late to start fresh; while we can’t go back, we can move forward. As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” Mordecai said of Esther, “who knows whether you’re come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther lived with purpose.

Another example we can learn from Esther’s life is that she was prayerful. Esther didn’t rush into decisions and she certainly wouldn’t be defined as hasty. Proverbs 21:5 says that “the thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Esther was diligent in her thoughts. In fact, before one of the biggest decisions of her life, Esther fasted for three days, and she asked everyone close to her to fast as well. When it comes to decision making, is your first inclination to consult others first or to consult God? Esther didn’t make decisions lightly; she made them very prayerfully because she recognized that prayer changes things. As we’re told in James 5:16, “…pray for one another…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Esther was a woman who was quietly confident, but she also stood up for what she believed in, and was willing to risk her life for it. While she first caught people’s eyes with her beauty, she commanded respect with her wisdom and confidence. Esther is an excellent example of knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue. She was quick to listen and slow to speak, but when she spoke, she stood her ground. Each of us can learn from this. Meekness doesn’t mean weakness. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to “be on guard; stand fast in the faith, be strong.”

Originally published as “Esther: An Excellent Example.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. October 25, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Thursday

2

August 2018

Hope Reflected | Truths about Pride

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"None is so empty as those who are full of themselves." Benjmain Whichcote | See more at hopereflected.com #quotes #qotd #bestquotes

Truths about Pride

Truths about pride from the book of Proverbs.

Pride. It’s personal. It’s not always public. It’s quite often your own perception of yourself. Pride starts in your heart, pride causes problems, and pride brings you down. Someone once said that “pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes,” which is ironic because pride will tell you that you’re at the top above everybody else.

The Bible is filled with verses about pride – more than 60 by my count – and the book of Proverbs is no exception. More a part of character than a feeling, here are three truths about pride from the book of Proverbs:

  1. Pride starts in the heart. “Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.” (Proverbs 18:12) We’re told in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13), and it should come as no surprise that pride starts in the heart. We’re told in Proverbs 16:5 that “everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD”. Pride, in its most pungent form, puts you above everybody else. Sure, pride may not always be overtly obvious, “I’m up here and you’re down there.” Maybe pride for you stems from a situation that you think should be suited to your needs. Perhaps pride for you is placing your own emotions over the facts. Or it could be that pride for you is not being willing to hear the opinions or feelings of another. Pride starts in the heart, and it won’t stop until it destroys you.
  2. Pride causes problems. “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10) The philosopher Benjamin Whichcote once said that, “none are so empty as those who are full of themselves.” Pride has this way of making everything about “me” and driving others away. Why did they say that about me? What does that mean for me? How is this situation going to affect me? Pride causes problems – relationally, professionally, and personally – because it puts the focus on “me”. You may be familiar with the JOY adage, “Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third”. By putting yourself first, you’re putting yourself above the Lord, and above others. And that’s bound to cause problems. As Ezra T. Benson once said, “Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.”
  3. Pride brings you down. “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honour.” (Proverbs 29:23) It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, and in fact, it may not be until eternity that your pride will bring you down. Whatever the case, we’re promised in God’s Word that “when pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) Pride starts in your heart, pride causes problems, and as a result, pride will bring you down. Proverbs 26:12 tells us that there is more hope for a fool than for a person is who is wise in their own eyes. Pride will ultimately bring you to a point where you think you’re equal – or better – than God. Psalm 10:4 says, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” And where there’s no room for God, you’re bound for disaster. Pride will bring you down.

The deceptive thing about pride is that it’s not always obvious. Pride has this way of sneaking up on us – through private thoughts or vain victories – so it’s important that we always remain aware and keep a short account with God. Ultimately, the greatest danger of pride is that it divides us and separates us from God. As C.S. Lewis said, “As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Originally published as “Pride.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. February 22, 2018: 6. Print. Web.

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Friday

23

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Lessons from the honey bee

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No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. | Lessons from the honey bee | See more at hopereflected.com

Lessons we can learn from the honey bee

Birds, bats, wind, and even water can act as pollinators, but perhaps the most interesting of all the pollinators is the honey bee. Such an intricate creation, the honey bee is small but mighty. The honey bee plays a very important role here on earth!

We can draw many parallels between honey bees and Christians. The honey bee spreads seeds; so do Christians. The honey bee has a mission; so do Christians. The honey bee doesn’t always see the results of what it sows; neither do Christians. Sometimes, only the Lord sees the harvest. We may never know the results of our labours. But does that mean that we should stop working for Him? No!

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Your words may be awkward. Your prayers may be meager. Your testimony may not be the most dramatic or exciting. No matter who you are, and no matter where you are, God can use you. In fact, sometimes it’s the most ordinary of people that God uses to do the most extraordinary things for His glory!

The honey bee isn’t concerned about whether it’s the strongest flyer, or whether it pollinates the most plants; no, the honey bee concentrates on the job at hand and remains focused. That’s how we need to be in our Christian walk. Keeping our focus always on the Lord.

There are other lessons we can learn from the small but mighty honey bee:

Learn how to adapt. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) Just as the honey bee knows how to adapt – honey bees can go for years without hunting by living on their food reserves – we as Christians also need to learn how to adapt to what’s going on in the world around us. Read: I’m not saying we conform to this world, but rather that we “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) Christians need to learn how to adapt and survive in a world where Christians are being held more and more accountable for what we believe.

Learn how to help others. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Honey bees are social creatures. They don’t work alone. They help each other. What have you done to help another soul recently? Perhaps you’re working anonymously in the background, giving to causes that assist those in need. Maybe you dedicate your spare hours to volunteering. You could even be serving by encouraging the people in your community. As Christians, we are called to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

Learn how to give your life for Christ’s glory. “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Honey bees give their life for the hive. The honey bee, by nature, is a defender. And when one honey bee’s stinger detaches from its body, it releases pheromones that inspire other honey bees to do the same and go on defense. I’m not suggesting that Christians should always be on the defensive (but sometimes!), rather I’m suggesting that as Christians we should be completely surrendered to Christ, wherever we are. For some Christians, the idea of giving up your life is quite literal, depending where you live in world. For others, giving up your life for Christ could mean complete and total dedication to serving the Lord. The reality is that we’re all missionaries, right here at home, even if we’re not called to full-time service.

Learning to adapt, helping others, and finding your purpose are all things we can glean from the honey bee. I also love what Ilan Shamir says in his “Advice from a honey bee”: Create a buzz, sip life’s sweet moments, mind your own beeswax, work together, always find your way home, stick close to your honey, bee yourself! “You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.” (Acts 2:28)

Originally published as “Lessons we can learn from the honey bee.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. December 14, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Friday

9

February 2018

Hope Reflected | Time with God: Seeking God

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Seeking God "Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face evermore!" (Psalm 105:4) | See more at hopereflected.com

Time with God: Seeking God

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been journaling about the references David made in the book of Psalms about seeking the Lord. David was a model of what it is to truly spend time with God. While he was incredibly flawed – hey, what it is to be human, right? – David was also incredibly close to our Lord. While we can learn from many positive examples of how David sought the Lord, here are three that really stand out to me: 

Seek God early. “O God, You are my God; early will I seek you.” (Psalm 63:1) Seeking God early: If you’re not a morning person, I can understand why you’d struggle with this. Reading through the Psalms however, there are so many encouraging verses about the value of seeking God early in the day. It’s such a viable point that David references it at least nine times that I can see in just one book of the Bible. “My voice you shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” (Psalm 5:3) Beyond just early in the day, it’s also important that we seek God early: Before making important decisions, before addressing problems, before we interact with others, before we leave the house. Early doesn’t just reference the morning; it references seeking God diligently and earnestly before making decisions (1 Kings 22:5). I’m no scholar, but the same Hebrew word for “early” used in Psalm 63:1 is also used in Psalm 78:34, “they sought Him, and returned and searched diligently for God.”

Seek God often. “Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore!” (Psalm 105:4) Some versions of the Bible replace the word “evermore” with the word “continually” or “always”. We are to seek the Lord continually, to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). Maybe for you seeking the Lord often means praying during your daily commute. Perhaps it’s communing with him while you’re out for a walk, or sitting at your desk, or while you’re making dinner. Wherever you are, seek Him! God is always with us, and we’re told in Proverbs 8:17 that those who seek the Lord diligently (read: Often) will find Him. You may think you don’t have time for God, but the key to seeking God often isn’t us making time; it’s making God part of everything that we do. After all, in Him we live and breathe and have our being. “In God we boast all day long, and praise your name forever. Selah.” (Psalm 44:8)

Seek God every day. “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” (Psalm 27:4) Each day brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. And no matter what the day brings, we are to seek God every day. What a challenge! We aren’t just to seek Him when we feel good, or when the circumstances suit us; we are to seek Him every day. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-16) Whether the day is terrific or troubling, we should seek God every day (Psalm 50:15).

David was in no way a perfect man, and I think that’s part of what makes his testimony so relatable – he was human, just as we are, and yet we witness him demonstrate so many times through God’s Word ways that we should seek God. When we earnestly seek after God, He seeks after us. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Originally published as “Time with God: Seeking God.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. November 16, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Wednesday

7

February 2018

Wednesday Wisdom | Don’t Confuse Complacency with Contentment

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Wednesday Wisdom: Don't confuse complacency with contentment. | See more at hopereflected.com

Wednesday Wisdom: Don’t confuse complacency with contentment

Complacency is rooted in pride, self, and idleness, while contentment is rooted in gratitude, thanksgiving, and active faith.

Complacency says, “Wow, look at everything I’ve accomplished,” while contentment says, “Thank you for all that you’ve blessed me with.”

Complacency fools you with conceit, while contentment fills you with humility.

Complacency tells you to stay where you are, while contentment encourages you to grow in your faith.

The book of Proverbs explains complacency vs. contentment in several verses:

  • “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:32-33)
  • “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” (Proverbs 10:4)
  • “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” (Proverbs 13:4)

Complacent people tend to be more slothful and sluggish; they’re of the mindset that they don’t have to work hard or strive to be better because they think they’re already the best, that they’ve already “arrived”. Content people are thankful for where they are, but they understand and appreciate the value in working diligently and in continuing to grow.

It’s easy to fall into the rut of complacency, but learning contentment is the only way to grow and move forward.

Don’t confuse complacency with contentment.

 

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Wednesday

17

January 2018

Wednesday Wisdom | The Workshop of Character is everyday life

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"Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won." (Maltbie Babcock) | See more at hopereflected.com

“Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.” (Maltbie Babcock)

An American writer most well-known for his hymn, “This is My Father’s World,” Maltbie Babcock said that the workshop of character is everyday life. I first wrote about Babcock’s quote in my column about volunteering, however this quote rings true in every area of life.

There’s a reason more people go to the gym during the months of January and February.

There’s a reason Genesis is one of the most-read books in the Bible.

People often start off the new year with a resolution that they’re going to lose weight, exercise more, read the Bible through in a year, eat healthier, so on and so forth. So many people fail at their resolutions because they don’t practice them long enough to turn them into habits. To develop good character, you must practice good habits.

Good habits don’t happen on one day of the year, they’re practiced each and every day. The same goes for our character. It’s not how we “act” on Sundays, or what we do to get recognized, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Our character is who we are when no one’s watching. Aristotle once said that excellence is not an act but a habit, and the same can be said of our character. Your words are not your character; your actions are your character.

You may be familiar with the saying, “Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

The workshop of character is everyday life.

“Good habits are not made on birthdays, nor Christian character at the new year. The workshop of character is everyday life. The uneventful and commonplace hour is where the battle is lost or won.” (Maltbie Babcock)

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Friday

18

August 2017

Hope Reflected | Watching Your Words

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The birds sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12 Watch your words | See more at hopereflected.com

Watching your words

If you follow along on our blog (www.hopereflected.com), then you know how much Wes and I love bird watching. From robins and blue jays to cardinals and mourning doves, there is something so soothing and therapeutic about watching God’s creations live their lives and interact in our yard. When I told him my column this week would be about the tongue, Wes commented about how so often we think of “the tongue” as something that gets us into trouble, when in reality, our tongues were created to bring glory to God. And not just our tongues, but the tongues of the birds out side as well. Birds sing to attract mates, birds call to protect their territory or alert others in their flock of food or danger. And sometimes, birds just sing. The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:4 that all the earth worships God and sings praises to Him.

What’s the first thing – in nature – that you hear when you wake up in the morning? Likely birds singing (or possibly dogs barking). If you’re into whale watching, it’s a fact that you’re most likely to see whales at their most active and vocal first thing in the morning. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. The Westminster Catechism says that, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That starts when we awake in the morning!

What prompted me to write about the power of the tongue this week was reading Psalm 141, where verse 3 says, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Many times throughout scripture, we are told of the perils of the tongue and how important it is to be mindful of our words and actions. You might think that guarding your tongue isn’t of much significance, but even Jesus “held His peace.” (Matthew 26:63). If Jesus knew the importance of guarding His tongue – especially right before He was crucified – we should also be mindful of His example.

Through scripture we read about the bad implications of the tongue, but we should also consider what the Bible says about the blessings that come when you guard your tongue and watch your words:

  1. You will gain understanding. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28) Sometimes it can be so tempting to interrupt and get your two cents in before the person you’re conversing with finishes their thought. Consider how the quality of our conversations would improve if only we would take the time to listen to the thoughts of others before responding. As it says in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” What you say reflects what’s in your heart. When you listen rather than speak, you gain understanding.
  2. You will have fewer regrets. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) Like turning jelly back into powder or putting an egg back in its shell after it’s been broken, once your words leave your lips, you can’t take them back. This is a lesson we are all constantly learning. Our words have consequences. You may have heard the quote, “Our words are free; it’s how we use them that may cost us.” How true it is! Just remember the next time you’re tempted that it’s not necessary to react to everything you notice.
  3. You will encourage others. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) Our words have the power to build others up, or to tear others down (Proverbs 15:1) – especially when we speak out of turn or talk about others behind their back. Proverbs 16:24 says that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Knowing this, why not use your words and your tongue to edify others?

Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” God’s creation, even the trees of the field, have their own way of speaking. Before you let those words roll off your tongue, consider who you’re directing the words at and the permanent impact that your words may have on the life of another.

Originally published as “Watching your words.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 10, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

24

July 2017

Hope Reflected | Meekness

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Meekness isn't weakness; it's strength under control. | Hope Reflected Read more at hopereflected.com

Meekness

Sunday is a day that both Wes and I look forward to each week. Not only is it the start of a new week, the Sabbath brings with it an opportunity to rest, to receive Biblical teaching, and to fellowship with other believers. This past Sunday, we were blessed by the ministry of Tim Horne. Speaking on the subject of the Beatitudes, Tim shared from God’s Word about Christians cultivating the characteristics of Christ in our everyday lives.

If you’re not familiar with the Beatitudes, you can read them as part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-12. The Beatitudes are a list of blessings and characteristics that Jesus highlights, and as Tim explained, the Beatitudes are a portrait of Jesus.

One of the Beatitudes is that of meekness. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” What does it truly mean to be meek?

Often, the virtue of meekness is associated with weakness (perhaps because the two words rhyme?). However, meekness isn’t weakness; it’s strength under control. From what I can see, Jesus is referred to (or calls Himself) meek at least ten times throughout Scripture. When you think about the definition of meekness, and what it means to embody the word, the references to Jesus as meek are very fitting. In fact meekness – for those living and looking to the Lord every day – is one of the essential expressions of a true Christian.

To be meek requires wisdom. “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (James 3:13) When I think of the people in my life who I consider to be wise, I see them as great pillars of strength. American theologian Warren Wiersbe once said that “meekness is the right use of power, and wisdom is the right use of knowledge. They go together. The truly wise person will show in his daily life (conversation means behavior), that he is a child of God. Attitude and action go together.”

To be meek requires strength. “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) Moses was a strong man. Not only did he lead the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, he also received the Ten Commandments from God. Meekness isn’t weakness; it’s strength under control. As Elder Ulisses Soares once said, “Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control.” Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.

To be meek requires humility and a teachable spirit. “The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.” (Psalm 25:9) Getting caught up in always being right, winning the argument, or always having the last word can be exhausting. You can find rest when you’re willing to learn. In one of my favourite Bible verses, Jesus provides encouragement when He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) It takes courage to be humble, and the Lord blesses a teachable spirit. “…God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

To be meek requires peacefulness. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing…” (2 Timothy 2:24-25) Sometimes we confuse being peaceful with being a pushover, and that’s not the case. Part of being meek means that you don’t purposefully strive with others, and you don’t seek out arguments. That being said, being meek requires you to stand up for what’s right, and to address it if someone treats you wrong. After all, God doesn’t call us to be doormats but He does call us to live in love. “Put them in mind… to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:2)

If you’re ever in doubt about the virtue of meekness, consider Jesus. As a mirror of the Beatitudes, His life is an example of meekness. To be soft and strong is a combination that few have mastered, but it can be done when you keep your focus on Christ.

Originally published as “Meekness.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. July 6, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Monday

8

May 2017

Hope Reflected | Wisdom | 5 Characteristics of the Wise

Written by , Posted in Christian Living, Published Work

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wisdom 5 characteristics of the wise

Wisdom | 5 characteristics of the wise

“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 5:15-16) Defined as the “capacity of judging rightly in matters relating to life and conduct; soundness of judgment in the choice of means and ends; sometimes, less strictly, sound sense, especially in practical affairs,” wisdom has been sought after for ages.

The word wisdom is used 234 times throughout the Bible (54 times in the book of Proverbs alone). Wisdom is an incredibly important virtue that is imperative to living a fulfilling and godly life. People often confuse wisdom with knowledge when in fact the two are completely different. Knowledge is the gathering and learning of facts and information while wisdom is understanding which of those facts and pieces of information are true, and how those facts and information apply to one’s life. Ironically, Jimi Hendrix described the difference like this: “Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.”

As Christians, we are called to seek after wisdom and pursue it. Throughout the Bible we read of several examples of wise – and unwise – men and women and the role that wisdom – or a lack thereof – played in each one of their lives. There are several telltale characteristics of a wise person:

  1. Wise people heed instruction. “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” (Proverbs 13:1) Wise people accept constructive criticism and grow from it; they listen to the advice of their elders who’ve “been there and done that”. As my Mum once told me, “You can learn from your mistakes, or you can learn from the mistakes of others and then choose not to make the same mistakes yourself.” Wise people consider, and follow instruction. “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20).
  2. Wise people listen. “A wise man will hear,” (Proverbs 1:5), “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15) If you’re wise, you’ll take the time to listen. The struggle is real, am I right?! Sometimes everything in me wants to speak when really what I need to do is listen. If you’re struggling to listen, remember the old adage: “If you seek wisdom, be silent.” “Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace.” (Proverbs 17:28).
  3. Wise people plan ahead. “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1) You’ve likely heard of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31. In Proverbs 14:1 we’re told of the wise woman who builds her house. At the time this Proverb was written, women were very involved in the managing and planning of their husbands’ estates (for more on this, read Proverbs 31). Whether you’re a woman or a man, if you’re living wisely, you’re working your best to provide for your family, to improve their lives, not just for now, but for the future as well.
  4. Wise people encourage one another. “The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.” (Proverbs 10:21) The book of Proverbs is filled with examples of guarding your tongue and thinking before you speak. Wise people encourage, exhort, and uplift those around them. They build others up rather than tear them down. They act with discernment and want to have good relationships (see also Proverbs 11:12).
  5. Wise people work hard and save. “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established.” (Proverbs 24:3) You build up for yourself and for your family through wise and prudent management, and by working diligently. Proverbs 10:4-5 says, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”

There are so many characteristics of people who are wise, perhaps most especially that they consistently pursue that very virtue. Charles Spurgeon once said that wisdom is “the right use of knowledge.” Use your knowledge to discern what is truly important in this world, and eternity. If you’re searching for wisdom, ask God. “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 1:5)

Originally published as “Wisdom | 5 characteristics of the wise.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. March 16, 2017: 7. Print.

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