Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 5 March 21:
Acts 22:3-7 — “…being zealous for God as all of you are this day…. I persecuted this Way to the death… I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’”
“…being zealous for God….” Information can give you knowledge, but knowledge is not understanding, and understanding is not wisdom. Some people study the Bible, but they don’t apply the Bible to their lives to obtain understanding, like reading books about how to play football, without every playing the game. Practical application develops and demonstrates understanding. But faith isn’t football; it requires more than just intelligent application; it requires ‘wise’ application. Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied, and only God knows what is ‘right.’ – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) Wisdom is not obtained through intellect but only through spiritual revelation – “Wisdom… comes down from above.” (James 3:15) Jesus explained only those born again can obtain wisdom through the Holy Spirit — “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossian 2:2, 3) Information is not transformation. Only though Jesus are we saved and transformed, and only through Christ do we receive the Holy Spirit which reveals to us “the mind of Christ.” But even born again Christians can quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, and get out of step with the Spirit, subsequently stepping outside the law of love and misapplying God’s truth.
There is a worldly version of ‘wisdom,’ but the Bible warns that this earthly, man-centered, counterfeit wisdom is actually demonic – “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 13:15) This form of wisdom is highly deceptive, may even involve misapplication of the Bible, and is destructive.
Paul was zealous in his Bible application, but lacking in wisdom (a love relationship with Jesus and the gifting of the Holy Spirit) he persecuted Jesus and the body of Christ, the church, all while boldly proclaiming faith. Bible knowledge is misapplied and dangerous without the love of Christ compelling you, both in your understanding and in your execution. This is why Paul said that if you have all the power in the world, and do miraculous things, but don’t have love, you have nothing. This is why Proverbs tells you, “Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools [those who lack wisdom].” (Proverbs 26:9)
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 — “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
- James 3:13-18 — Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
- Ephesians 5:15-17 — Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
“I persecuted this Way to the death….” Wisdom starts with a fear of the Lord and true humility in recognition of spiritual bankruptcy apart from the riches of Christ. Paul’s testimony started with a confession of his sinfulness and total depravity. Paul’s message was clear, ‘I was a worthless sinner saved by God through Jesus Christ, not because of anything I had done or because of who I had become, but merely because of God’s mercy and grace.’ Isn’t that our story too? Yet, we still tend to act prideful in our own ‘righteousness,’ wanting others to think highly of us. We hide our sins from others because we don’t want others to see who we really are, and we justify ourselves in conflicts, defending our ‘rights,’ demanding ‘justice’ for ourselves from others while simultaneously claiming grace for ourselves from God. Not Paul, he wanted everyone to know exactly how unworthy he was so that the grace of God and the glory of Jesus Christ could be magnified before men. Paul wanted all attention, honor, glory, and praise to go to Jesus, and he wanted all other sinners like him to know that it is faith in Jesus Christ that saves, not good works done on earth. Do you want people to see goodness in you or greatness of God? In conflict will you defend your rights and your position, or will you fulfill your calling as Christ’s ambassador and represent Him only, seeking reconciliation between your offender and Christ?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 5 Mar 21: Today, get wisdom and share wisdom by knowing Jesus more and making Him known more. (Proverbs 4:5-7)